In response to the recently approved Online News Act in Canada, Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has announced its plans to discontinue access to news on Facebook and Instagram for Canadian users. The legislation, known as Bill C-18, requires internet giants to negotiate compensation agreements with news publishers for the use of their content, including posting or linking to it.
In a blog post, Meta stated, “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.” The company has been vocal about its stance on the legislation since it was first proposed in 2021. Last year, Meta threatened to block the sharing of Canadian news content unless the government made amendments to the legislation. Earlier this month, Meta began blocking news on its platforms for some Canadian users. With the bill approved by the Senate and awaiting royal assent, which is considered a formality, Meta is prepared to follow through on its previous warnings.
Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez expressed his disagreement with Meta’s decision in a tweet, emphasizing that Meta is currently not obligated to comply with the act. Rodriguez stated, “Facebook knows very well that they have no obligations under the act right now,” and questioned who would stand up for Canadians against tech giants if the government does not.
It is noteworthy that Meta is not the only internet giant expressing discontent with the legislation. Earlier this year, Google conducted tests that restricted access to news content for some Canadian users. The company stated its efforts to find a mutually agreeable solution, expressing a desire to avoid an unfavorable outcome. Google has proposed various solutions throughout the process, seeking to address concerns and facilitate increased investments in the Canadian news ecosystem. However, the company claims that none of their concerns have been addressed, and they consider Bill C-18 to be unworkable. Google remains committed to urgently collaborating with the government to find a way forward.
Canada’s legislation bears similarities to a law passed in Australia in 2021. Meta had temporarily removed news content from the platform in Australia following the law’s passage but eventually restored it after the Australian government amended the legislation to allow for extended negotiation time between the platform and publishers.