Will Meta Pull the Plug on News on Facebook and Instagram in Canada?

23 June, 2023 | Mohamed Punnilath

Facebook World

Meta and Google Respond to Canadian News Act with Restraints on News Access.

In a direct response to the Online News Act (Bill C-18) passed by the Canadian Parliament in June 2022, Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram, have announced plans to restrict news access for Canadian users.

The bill mandates that online platforms, including Facebook and Google, pay news publishers for the content posted on their sites. However, the platforms argue that the bill is unfair and will obstruct innovation.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, stated that it will limit Canadian users’ ability to view news from publishers who have not complied with the bill. As a result, the “News” tab will be removed from both Facebook and Instagram in Canada.

Similarly, Google has been experimenting with restricting news access for some Canadian users, but is still evaluating its options and will make a decision in the coming months. Reactions to the Online News Act have been mixed. While some news publishers welcome the bill as a means to be fairly compensated for their content, others argue that it is unnecessary and will disrupt innovation within the industry.

Meanwhile, the impact of the Online News Act on the Canadian news industry remains uncertain, as the decision by Meta and Google to limit news access highlights their dissatisfaction with the terms of the bill.

What is Canada’s Online News Act and how it will impact platforms like Facebook and Instagram?

The Online News bill applies to online platforms with more than 50 million monthly active users in Canada. Under the act, Platforms will be required to pay news publishers for content that is “highly viewed” on their sites.

The amount of compensation that publishers receive will be based on a number of factors, including the number of views that their content receives and the amount of traffic that they drive to the platforms. The platforms will have the option to negotiate with publishers directly. If they cannot reach an agreement, the matter will be decided by an independent arbitrator.

The bill also includes a number of other provisions, such as the requirement for platforms such as Facebook to provide news publishers with access to data about how their content is being used on the platforms. It also requires platforms to promote Canadian news content on their sites.

A requirement for platforms to create a code of conduct for their interactions with news publishers. While Meta has called the law “fundamentally flawed legislation that ignores the realities of how our platforms work”, Google responded to the bill as “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 organisations to “secure fair compensation” for news and links shared on the platforms. The Online News Act is expected to take effect in Canada in six months.