Amidst a contentious battle between tech giants and Canadian lawmakers over the Online News Act, Facebook and Instagram, owned by Meta Platforms Inc. (NASDAQ: META), have started blocking news access for all users in the country.
What Happened: The Online News Act, passed by the Canadian parliament, aims to force platforms like Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Google to negotiate commercial deals with Canadian news publishers for their content.
In response, on Tuesday, Meta started blocking access to news on its social media platforms for all users in Canada.
Rachel Curran, Meta’s head of public policy in Canada, defended the move. “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,” said Curran.
Another Meta spokesperson took to Twitter, now rebranded as “X,” and said that “the law is based on a fundamentally flawed premise.”
Today we’ve begun the process of ending news availability in Canada. Changes will roll out over a few weeks.
As we’ve always said, the law is based on a fundamentally flawed premise. And, regrettably, the only way we can reasonably comply is to end news availability in Canada.
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) August 1, 2023
On the same day, Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge denounced Meta’s decision, calling it “irresponsible” and accusing the tech giant of prioritizing profits over the public’s access to vital news.
He further emphasized the importance of standing up against tech giants and ensuring fair treatment for news organizations, reported Reuters.
Why It’s Important: The move by Meta and Google to block access to news in Canada comes as part of a global trend to make tech firms pay for news content.
“The Canadian law not only puts a price on news story links displayed in search results but can also apply to outlets that do not produce news, raising concerns about its broader impact on the digital landscape,” said Benzinga.
Google, which also opposed the Canadian law, argued that it goes beyond similar legislation enacted in Australia and Europe.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had previously criticized Meta’s argument that news lacked economic value, calling it “dangerous to our democracy, to our economy.”
Produced in association with Benzinga