Meta has begun the process of ending access to news on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada.
This was the response to Canada’s Online News Act, which requires internet giants like Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook) and Google to negotiate commercial deals with Canadian news publishers for their content.
Rachel Curran, Meta’s head of public policy in Canada, defended the decision, stating that news outlets voluntarily share content on their platforms including Facebook to expand their audiences and boost their revenue. However, she argued that users of Facebook and Instagram do not primarily rely on the platforms for news consumption.
Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge, responsible for the government’s dealings with Meta, expressed strong opposition to the move. She criticized the tech giants for blocking access to high-quality and local news instead of fairly compensating news organizations. St-Onge vowed to stand firm in protecting Canadians’ interests against powerful tech companies.
The Canadian law mirrors a groundbreaking legislation passed in Australia in 2021, which led to threats from Google and Facebook to limit their services. Ultimately, both companies reached agreements with Australian media firms after amendments were made to the legislation.
Google also raised concerns about the Canadian law, arguing that it is broader in scope compared to those in Australia and Europe. The law places a price on news story links displayed in search results and applies to outlets that do not produce news.
Facebook countered by stating that news links make up less than 3% of the content on their users’ feeds and claimed that news content lacks significant economic value. However, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau disagreed with this stance, deeming it “flawed” and a threat to democracy and the economy.
The situation in Canada reflects a broader global trend of holding tech companies accountable for paying for news content. Despite the pushback from Meta and Google, the Canadian government remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring a fair and equitable relationship between tech giants and news publishers.