Meta, the parent company overseeing Facebook and Instagram, has initiated the blocking of news articles on its social networking platforms within Canada.
This decision is a response to a recent Canadian law mandating tech firms to compensate news sources for the usage of their content. Meta revealed in a blog post on Tuesday that this alteration will be implemented gradually over the forthcoming weeks. Consequently, content from both local Canadian news outlets and international sources on Facebook and Instagram will be concealed from Canadian users.
Canada enacted the Online News Act in June, aligning with the global trend among various governments to compel major social media corporations to remunerate news entities. This legislation mandates that platforms and search engines engage in negotiations with news publishers to secure licenses for their content.
Meta had previously signaled its intention to restrict access to news due to the Canadian law. In its blog post, the company stated that the Online News Act inaccurately represents the value that news outlets receive when opting to use Meta’s platforms.
The post argued, “The legislation is based on the incorrect premise that Meta benefits unfairly from news content shared on our platforms, when the reverse is true.” It contended that news outlets willingly share content to expand their audiences. Meta claimed that its platforms had generated traffic for publishers valued at over 230 million Canadian dollars in a 12-month period leading to April 2022.
Pascale St-Onge, Canada’s Minister for Canadian Heritage, criticized Meta’s actions as “irresponsible.” She lamented that the company would rather block users from accessing quality local news than fairly compensate news organizations. St-Onge conveyed this sentiment via a Twitter statement and emphasized that the Canadian government would uphold the newly enacted legislation.
St-Onge also suggested that Facebook’s actions could set a precedent for other nations, such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Similarly, Google has also announced its intention to eliminate links to local Canadian news content. Kent Walker, Google’s President of Global Affairs, denounced the Online News Act as “unworkable” and stated it exposed the company to unlimited financial liability by obligating payment for displaying news links. Google conveyed its intention to the Canadian government that it would eliminate news links and discontinue its Google News Showcase product upon the law’s enforcement.
The Canadian law draws inspiration from Australia’s 2021 legislation, which was the first of its kind. Meta had briefly blocked news links in Australia before eventually reaching an agreement and lifting the ban.
Although California lawmakers contemplated a bill mandating tech giants to remunerate news entities, it was reported last month that the bill had been postponed for a year. Meta has vigorously opposed this bill, known as the California Journalism Preservation Act.