Meta plans to end access to news on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada once parliament-approved legislation requiring internet giants to pay news publishers comes into effect, the company said on Thursday.

Similar to a ground-breaking law accepted in Australia in 2021, the act lays out rules that force platforms like Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to set up commercial arrangements and pay news publishers for their content.

The Online News Act of Canada, which cleared the senate on Thursday, sets rules requiring companies like Meta and Google to make commercial arrangements and pay newsgroups for their content.

Meta has called the law “fundamentally flawed legislation that ignores the realities of how our platforms work”.

On Thursday, it stated that all Canadian users would no longer be able to access news on Facebook and Instagram until the bill takes on effect.

“A legislative framework that compels us to pay for links or content that we do not post, and which are not the reason the vast majority of people use our platforms, is neither sustainable nor workable,” a Meta spokesperson told Reuters.

What does Canada’s media bill say?

According to the company, Canadian internet users’ access to other services will not be affected by the changes to news.

Google called the bill “unworkable” in its current form and said it was seeking to work with the government to find a “path forward”.

The federal government says the online news bill is necessary “to enhance fairness in the Canadian digital news market” and to allow struggling news organizations to “secure fair compensation” for news and links shared on the platforms.

According to an independent budget watchdog’s evaluation of the measure, news organizations could get around C$329 million ($250 million; £196 million) a year from digital platforms.

The tech platforms’ evaluation is “unacceptable” and a “threat,” Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez told Reuters earlier this month.

After talks with the government led to changes, Facebook in Australia gave its users access to news content again.

The government will go through with the bill’s implementation, according to a statement from Mr. Rodriguez’s office on Thursday. He had meetings with Google and Facebook this week and planned additional conversations, the statement added.

“If the government can’t stand up for Canadians against tech giants, who will?” he said in a statement.

Media industry groups hailed the bill’s passage as a step towards market fairness.

“Real journalism, created by real journalists, continues to be demanded by Canadians and is vital to our democracy, but it costs real money,” said Paul Deegan, president, and chief executive officer of News Media Canada, a media industry group, said in a statement

The Online News Act is expected to take effect in Canada in six months.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here