News Access Restrictions Coming to Facebook and Instagram in Canada
According to the given information, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has announced that it will restrict news on its platforms to Canadian consumers following the passage of the controversial Online News Act by the Canadian Parliament. The law requires big platforms like Meta and Google to compensate news publishers for the content posted on their sites.
Meta and Google have already been testing limitations on news access for some Canadian users. The move by Meta is reminiscent of a similar situation that occurred in Australia in 2021 when Facebook blocked users from sharing or viewing news content in response to a comparable law.
Meta has criticized the Online News Act, calling it “fundamentally flawed legislation that ignores the realities of how our platforms work.” The company stated that it would cease news availability on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada before the law takes effect. However, it clarified that the changes to news availability would not affect other services for Canadian users.
Google has also expressed its concerns about the bill, referring to it as “unworkable” in its current form. The company has expressed its intention to collaborate with the Canadian government to find a viable solution.
The Canadian government argues that the Online News Act is necessary to promote fairness in the Canadian digital news market and allow struggling news organizations to receive fair compensation for their content shared on these platforms. An analysis conducted by an independent parliamentary budget watchdog estimated that news businesses could receive approximately C$329 million ($250 million; £196 million) per year from digital platforms under the proposed legislation.
Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has criticized the tests conducted by tech platforms and deemed them “unacceptable” and a “threat.” Despite ongoing discussions with Google and Facebook, Rodriguez’s office has stated that the government will proceed with the implementation of the bill.
Media industry groups have welcomed the passage of the bill, viewing it as a step toward achieving market fairness. They argue that quality journalism created by professional journalists is crucial for democracy but comes at a significant cost.
The Online News Act is expected to come into effect in Canada within six months.