Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has begun blocking access to posts from Canadian news organizations on their respective Instagram accounts. This action follows Meta’s earlier announcement to block news links on Facebook, and Google’s decision to remove links to Canadian news sites from Google News and Google Discovery.
The motive behind these actions from both tech giants is in response to a federal bill that mandates the largest social media platforms to compensate news organizations for the news content shared on their platforms. While specific timelines were not provided by Meta and Google for when the blocking would commence, some Instagram users in Canada started noticing the bans on Friday.
These bans coincide with the passing of the Online News Act, also known as Bill C-18, proposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This act, which became law last month, requires social media giants to provide compensation to Canadian media companies for the sharing of their news content online.
The bill obligates major tech platforms to share about $330 million each year with publishers for using and sharing their news content.
The Liberals initially introduced Bill C-18 in June 2022, with the aim of compelling major social media companies like Meta and Facebook to pay Canadian news organizations and broadcasters for the content circulated on their platforms.
Meta has announced its intention to block Canadians from sharing news on its platforms in response to the recently enacted Online News Act by the Canadian government. This move aligns with Meta’s past actions in Australia and its warning to block news in California if similar legislation is passed.
The Canadian legislation, inspired by a law enacted in Australia in 2021, is part of the government’s broader efforts to regulate the digital sphere and limit the influence of tech giants. It seeks to address the financial disparity between Silicon Valley giants and media organizations, which have suffered substantial revenue losses due to the shift of advertising dollars to platforms like Facebook and Google.
Google has also disclosed its decision to remove Canadian news content from its platforms within Canada as a response to this law.
In response to Meta’s plans to block Canadian news content, the federal government has planned to cease all advertising on Facebook and Instagram. This action mirrors the stance taken by Quebecor Inc., which announced it would halt advertising with Meta for the same reason.
Moreover, in the aftermath of the law’s passage, Meta has decided to terminate its contract with The Canadian Press. This decision comes in addition to their previous announcement to remove news from Facebook and Instagram by the year’s end. The contract with The Canadian Press played a crucial role in supporting the hiring of emerging journalists, having funded 30 reporting fellowship positions since its establishment in 2020.
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