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2 Aug, 2023 15:41

Meta starts blocking news in Canada

The move comes in response to a new law requiring tech companies to pay news publishers
Meta starts blocking news in Canada

Meta Platforms has announced that it will begin blocking access to any news content on Instagram and Facebook for all users in Canada in order to comply with a recently passed law that requires social media companies to pay their “fair share to news organizations.” 

In a statement published on Tuesday, Meta stated that effective immediately, links and content published by Canadian and international news outlets on Meta’s apps will no longer be viewable by users in Canada. Additionally, Canadians will no longer be able to share any news content on Facebook or Instagram, including articles and audio-visual content posted by news outlets. These changes will be implemented over the next few weeks, Meta said. 

The so-called Online News Act, which was passed by the Canadian parliament in June, forces platforms like Google and Meta to negotiate commercial deals with Canadian news publishers for their content. 

Lawmakers claim that the bill aims to support the sustainability of news organizations by regulating “digital news intermediaries with a view to enhancing fairness in the Canadian digital news marketplace.” 

The legislation, however, has been heavily condemned by the tech giants, with Meta arguing that it misrepresents the value news outlets receive when choosing to use social media platforms. 

“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,” Rachel Curran, Meta’s head of public policy in Canada, said. 

Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge, who is in charge of the government’s dealings with Meta, called the company’s move “irresponsible.” 

“They would rather block their users from accessing good quality and local news instead of paying their fair share to news organizations,” St-Ogne said, adding that “we’re going to keep standing our ground.” 

Canada’s Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre also lamented Meta’s decision, but placed the blame for the situation solely on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  

“It’s like 1984,” Poilievre said. “You have a prime minister passing a law to make news articles disappear from the internet!” he added, suggesting that Trudeau “doesn’t want Canadians to see the facts of life.”