Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram has announced that it will no longer serve news articles to Canadian users. The decision comes as the Canadian government prepares to bring Bill C-18 into effect.
The Bill, C-18, dubbed as the Online News Act was proposed to the Canadian parliament last year and required social media companies like Facebook to make commercial deals with news agencies in order to serve news on their platform. The government backed the proposal noting that the bill would help the Canadian news agencies and publication houses to receive compensation and a share of ad-revenue for their news articles.
In 2020, online advertising revenues in Canada reached $9.7 billion, with two companies taking in more than 80 percent of those revenues. It’s time to address this market imbalance.
Bill C-18 would require tech giants to make fair commercial deals with outlets for the news and information that is shared on their platforms.
As the bill received royal assent on Thursday, Meta announced that it plans to cut news content from its platform in Canada. The company, however, noted that the change will be rolled out in a phased matter and will not take place immediately.
Today, we are confirming that news availability will be ended on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada prior to the Online News Act (Bill C-18) taking effect.
We have repeatedly shared that in order to comply with Bill C-18, passed today in Parliament, content from news outlets, including news publishers and broadcasters, will no longer be available to people accessing our platforms in Canada.
In response to Meta, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said that the company currently has no obligation under the law and that the government will engage in a "regulatory and implementation process" with the company. The spokesperson for the minister further noted that the government has an open dialog with Google and Facebook in relation to the bill.
Earlier this month, Meta had announced that it will conduct a test to block news availability to Canadian users. The test included cutting off access for one to five percent of the userbase over a 24-hour period. This further added oil to the fire with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hitting back at Facebook for taking away news access for the users.
The fact that these internet giants would rather cut off Canadians' access to local news than pay their fair share is a real problem, and now they're resorting to bullying tactics to try and get their way. It's not going to work.
Google, on the other hand, released a statement to the media on Thursday and stated that it is trying to "avoid an outcome no one wants."
Every step of the way, we've proposed thoughtful and pragmatic solutions that would have improved the bill and cleared the path for us to increase our already significant investments in the Canadian news ecosystem.
So far, none of our concerns have been addressed. Bill C-18 is about to become law and remains unworkable.
Rodriguez, in a separate conversation, noted that Facebook earlier pulled the plug in Australia after the Australian government brought a bill into effect, forcing social media companies to pay publishers for using their news articles. However, the company struck a deal days later and news articles were restored on the platform.