Meta to End News Access in Canada Over Publisher Payment Law – Meta has announced that it is initiating the cessation of news access on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada. This decision is a response to new legislation in the country, which mandates internet giants to compensate news publishers. According to Meta’s communications director, Andy Stone, the changes will be implemented in the upcoming weeks.
Meanwhile, Canada’s heritage minister, Pascale St-Onge, responsible for the government’s interactions with Meta, expressed concerns about the decision, labeling it as irresponsible. “Meta would rather block their users from accessing good quality and local news instead of paying their fair share to news organizations,” St-Onge said in a statement on Tuesday. “We’re going to keep standing our ground. After all, if the government can’t stand up for Canadians against tech giants, who will?”
Canada’s public broadcast CBC also called Meta’s move irresponsible and said that it was “an abuse of their market power.” The Canadian parliament passed the Online News Act, which would compel companies like Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Meta to negotiate commercial agreements with Canadian news publishers for their content. This legislative move aligns with a growing global trend of governments aiming to make tech firms pay for news.
Similar to Australia’s groundbreaking law in 2021, which led to Google and Facebook threatening to limit their services, Canada’s legislation has followed a comparable path. Eventually, both companies reached deals with Australian media firms after the law was amended. In the US, the state of California has also contemplated a similar law, prompting Meta to threaten withdrawal of services if the legislation is passed. Regarding the Canadian law, Google has contended that it is more extensive compared to those implemented in Australia and Europe.
This is because it places a value on news story links displayed in search results and may also apply to outlets that don’t produce news. Meta, on the other hand, has asserted that news links constitute less than 3% of its users’ feed content and argued that news doesn’t hold significant economic value. In response to these arguments, Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, expressed his disagreement in May, deeming such reasoning as flawed and “dangerous to our democracy, to our economy.”