Facebook and Instagram could soon be news-free for our neighbors to the north. Meta has again stated that it would rather delete news links on its platforms in Canada than comply with pending legislation.
Canada’s Online News Act, an invoice officially called C-18, would force online platforms to pay publishers for their content. In other words, the legislation would require sites like Facebook and Google to pay news outlets like Gizmodo a fee for content linked or shared on their platforms. Tech companies could have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars annually to news publishers under the law. The law passed the House of Commons and is currently under consideration in the Senate Committee on Transportation and Communications. For obvious reasons, tech companies disagree with the potential policy.
Google and Meta alike have done their best to protest the bill through lobbying, public speaking, and other actions. Google for example started Limiting news links in search results for a small percentage of Canadian users in February during a five-week test. Meta previously assured Canadian lawmakers that if C-18 were to be passed, Facebook and Instagram are no longer supported in the country news links.
Now the company has doubled that stance a long audience Statement by Nick Clegg, Meta’s President for Global Affairs and former British politician, released on Monday.
“The Online News Act is based on a fundamentally flawed premise. Meta will not unfairly benefit from people sharing links to news content on our platform. The opposite is true,” the manager wrote in the blog post. “Ultimately, this legislation puts Meta in a bad spot. To comply, we must either operate in a flawed and unfair regulatory environment or end the availability of news content in Canada. It is with a heavy heart that we choose the latter. As the Minister of Canadian Heritage has said, this is a business decision,” added Clegg.
The statement outlined Meta’s reasoning behind his stance—Repeating many of the arguments previously made by the company. Namely that news sites need Facebook and Instagram, not the other way around. Clegg repeatedly claims that only a tiny portion (about 3%) of FacThe content of the e-book feed consists of news links. Conversely, Meta says it has generated “more than $230 million” in “free marketing” for news publishers.
According to Meta, Clegg’s statement was originally scheduled to be made during a Canadian Senate Committee hearing on Monday. However, after name of the hearing was changed to “Current and ongoing use of intimidation and subversion tactics by tech giants to circumvent regulations in Canada and around the world,” Clegg backed off and Meta opted to send other representatives in his place. Kevin Chan, the company’s Global Policy Director, and Rachel Curran, Meta’s Public Policy Head for Canada, spoke before instead the Senate Committee.
During the meeting, Curran told lawmakers that Meta was already working on a content blocking strategy for news links in Canada. Contrary to the chaos the company sowed in Australia in 2021Curran claimed this time the removal of messages would be careful and transparent, Curran said a report from the CBC. “It is absolutely our intention not to make the same mistakes in Canada that we made in Australia,” the meta manager said.
Canada isn’t the first country to force social media platforms and other sites to pay news publishers to host their content. Previously, Australian lawmakers were considering a similar bill. In response, Messages blocked by Meta on its platforms nationwide. The move not only impacted publishers, it also put a strain on emergency alert networks – removing things like: hospital and fire department Pages. Although Curran called this result a “mistake” during Monday’s session, a Report 2022 The Wall Street Journal noted that the devastation may have been a deliberate move to sway negotiations.
Whether it was intentional or not, the Australian news block test had the desired result for Meta and his colleagues. Australia has passed a lot watered down version its legislation. If Meta and Google continue to make headway in Canada, there’s a good chance they can agree to reduced regulations there as well.