Metas Facebook, Instagram Start Blocking News Outlets in Canada

Meta said Tuesday that it has “begun the process of ending news availability in Canada” across Facebook and Instagram in response to a new Canadian law.

“These changes start today, and will be implemented for all people accessing Facebook and Instagram in Canada over the course of the next few weeks,” the social media giant said in an Aug. 1 blog post update.

The move comes after the passage of Canada’s Online News Act in June 2023. The law was established to ensure “fair revenue sharing between digital platforms and news outlets,” according to the government, as well as provide for “collective bargaining by news outlets” with big tech firms.

But instead of compensating news organizations, Meta has decided to shut down access to them in the country. “We have been transparent and have made it clear to the Canadian government that the legislation misrepresents the value news outlets receive when choosing to use our platforms,” Meta said in the blog post. “The legislation is based on the incorrect premise that Meta benefits unfairly from news content shared on our platforms, when the reverse is true. News outlets voluntarily share content on Facebook and Instagram to expand their audiences and help their bottom line. In contrast, we know the people using our platforms don’t come to us for news.”

The changes means that news links and content posted by Canadian news publishers and broadcasters “will no longer be viewable by people in Canada,” while news publishers and broadcasters outside of Canada will continue to be able to post news links and content but “that content will not be viewable by people in Canada,” according to the company.

In determining which accounts to block, Meta said, it is identifying news outlets based on legislative definitions and guidance from the Online News Act. Google has said it also expects to block Canadian news sources from its Search, News and Discover services because of the new law.

In a statement, CBC/Radio-Canada criticized Meta’s actions. “Meta’s move to deny Canadians access to domestic sources of trusted news and verified information — especially at a time when Canadians are depending on it to stay safe from the harmful effects of unprecedented weather events across much of the country — is irresponsible and an abuse of their market power,” it said. “CBC/Radio-Canada joins all Canadian media organizations who are calling on Meta to act responsibly by restoring Canadians’ access to news — all news, from all outlets, both public and private — and by negotiating with Canadian media organizations to compensate them for their news content.”

A similar situation unfolded in Australia in 2021, when Meta blocked news outlets for users in the country on its platforms over Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code, requiring tech companies to pay news publishers for content. The issue was resolved when the Australian government made changes to the law, resulting in Google and Meta striking deals with local news outlets.

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