Meta, the parent company of Facebook, declared at the beginning of the month that it would discontinue all news content on Facebook and Instagram in Canada if the government enacted its proposed Online News Act. When Canadian Parliament indeed passed the Act on Thursday, Meta promptly confirmed its decision.
The firm announced, “We affirm that the availability of news will be ceased on Facebook and Instagram for all Canadian users before the implementation of the Online News Act (Bill C-18).” They added, “To comply with Bill C-18, which was approved today by Parliament, all news content, including that from publishers and broadcasters, will be inaccessible for individuals using our platforms in Canada.”
The purpose of the Online News Act is to mitigate the severe decline in advertising income experienced by Canadian news organizations over the last twenty years. It seeks to do this by requiring tech giants like Google and Meta to negotiate compensation plans with these outlets for featuring their stories on their platforms.
Earlier this month, Meta revealed its plans to find a software-based solution to comply with Bill C-18. As of Thursday, these initiatives are still underway and are currently affecting a small portion of users in Canada. Besides this change in news functionality, Meta has reassured its users that no other aspects of the Facebook experience will be altered.
This is not Meta’s first instance of withdrawing services in response to governmental oversight. In 2021, Meta eliminated its news features from the Australian market following the passage of similar compensation laws, even preventing publishers from linking to their posts on the social media platform. The decision negatively impacted various Australian government agency pages and numerous local nonprofit organizations before being reversed.
Discussing the legislation, William Easton, Facebook’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, noted, “This law establishes a precedent in which the government decides who participates in these news content agreements and, ultimately, how much the party that already benefits from the free service gets paid. We will now shift our investments to other countries as part of our strategy to fund new licensing news programs and experiences.”
Meanwhile, Google, which would also be impacted by the bill, has not yet revealed any plans to officially terminate its service in Canada. However, the tech giant started testing a method to block news access in Canada earlier in February.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Meta News Removal Canada
Why is Meta removing news content from Facebook and Instagram in Canada?
Meta is removing news content in response to the Canadian Parliament passing the Online News Act, or Bill C-18. This act requires large tech companies to negotiate compensation plans with news outlets for featuring their stories on their platforms. Meta had previously announced that it would discontinue all news content on its platforms in Canada if the bill passed.
What is the Online News Act?
The Online News Act, or Bill C-18, is a law passed by the Canadian Parliament designed to address the steep decline in advertising revenue experienced by Canadian news organizations over the past two decades. The law requires big tech companies like Google and Meta to negotiate compensation plans with news outlets for running their stories on their platforms.
How has Meta responded to similar laws in the past?
In 2021, in response to Australia passing similar compensation laws, Meta removed its news features from the Australian market. This even extended to preventing publishers from linking to their posts on the social media platform. The move negatively affected multiple Australian government agencies and numerous non-profit organizations in the region before it was reversed.
Will other services on Facebook and Instagram be affected?
Meta has reassured its users that the removal of news content is the only change and that no other aspects of the Facebook or Instagram experience in Canada will be altered.
How has Google responded to the Online News Act?
As of the writing of the text, Google, which would also be affected by the bill’s implementation, has not announced any plans to officially cut service in Canada. However, it began testing a method to block news access in Canada in February.