Meta blocks news in Canada on Facebook and Instagram over paying publisherstext_fields
Ottawa: Social media giant Meta Platforms, formerly known as Facebook, has initiated the process of blocking access to news content on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada.
This decision comes in response to the Canadian parliament passing the Online News Act, which requires internet giants like Meta and Google parent company Alphabet to negotiate commercial deals with Canadian news publishers for their content.
Meta's head of public policy in Canada, Rachel Curran, stated that news outlets voluntarily share content on their platforms to expand their audiences and boost their bottom line. However, Meta argues that its users do not primarily come to their platforms for news consumption.
The move by Meta to block news has been met with criticism from the Canadian government.
Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge denounced the decision as "irresponsible" and expressed concern about users being deprived of good quality and local news due to the tech giant's refusal to pay news organisations for their content. The Canadian government is standing firm in its commitment to protect Canadian interests against powerful tech companies.
This law is part of a broader global trend to make tech firms pay for news content. Both Meta and Google had already announced in June their intention to block access to news on their platforms in Canada as part of their campaign against the law.
The Canadian law resembles a ground-breaking law passed in Australia in 2021, which led to threats from Google and Facebook to limit their services. However, in Australia, both companies eventually reached agreements with media firms after amendments were made to the legislation.
Google has raised concerns about the Canadian law, arguing that it is broader than those enacted in Australia and Europe. The law not only puts a price on news story links displayed in search results but also applies to outlets that do not produce news content.
Meta claims that news articles constitute less than 3% of the content on its users' feeds and has contended that news lacks economic value. Nevertheless, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has criticised this argument, deeming it "flawed and dangerous to our democracy and economy."
The situation in Canada is being closely watched by the world as governments and tech giants grapple with issues of media compensation and fair access to news content in the digital age.