Facebook And Instagram Start Blocking News Content In Canada In Response To Country’s New Law
In compliance with Canada’s Online News Act, Facebook and Instagram have begun blocking news content for users in the North American country.
The legislation, which became law in June, requires tech companies to pay news organizations in exchange for hosting their content. The law is intended to help preserve Canadian news organizations and limit the erosion of their businesses due to internet distribution. Instead of agreeing to the fees, Meta and Google have both said they would instead simply eliminate news in Canada.
A similar bill in California has cleared certain hurdles in the state and could soon become law. The situation in Canada has reinvigorated a longstanding debate in the U.S., which has seen a number of news organizations hobbled as tech companies continue to draw vast numbers of readers and advertisers.
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Meta confirmed in a blog post that the unwinding of news material has started in Canada and will take effect across Facebook and Instagram over the next few weeks. The blocks will not affect news on the social platforms that circulates elsewhere in the world.
Both Meta and Canadian news outlets expressed frustration with the outcome of the government’s action.
“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 wrote in its 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.”
Earlier this year, Google said it feared that the Online News Act would “make it harder for Canadians to find news online, make it harder for journalists to reach their audiences, and reduce valuable free web traffic to Canadian publishers.” The tech giant said it had attempted to work with regulators and government officials to arrive at a workable solution.
The CBC was among the news outlets decrying what it said was a blow to citizens across the country. Especially hard-hit would be those in the country’s sparsely populated northern regions, Francophones in minority language communities, or people in rural communities who depend more on Facebook for news, the outlet said.
“This means that people in Canada who have come to rely on these platforms to find and access news and information about their country are now left with only unverified sources in their feeds,” the news outlet said. “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.”
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