Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta began removing news links on both sites in Canada this week.
Meta announced the change in June as a response to Canada’s Online News Act, a new law requires companies like Facebook to pay publishers to display news links. The law was passed to help publishers, which have seen declines in advertising revenue.
According to Meta, this means Canadian and international news outlets will not have their links displayed to people in the country. People in Canada will also be unable to view or share news content, “including news articles and audio-visual content posted by news outlets.” The changes will also take place over the coming weeks.
Facebook’s announcement made no mention of how this would affect its newly launched competitor to X, formerly known as Twitter, Threads. The new social media app, which saw rapid growth upon release in early July, has already faltered, losing 70% of daily active users since its peak.
In its announcement, Meta doubled down on its opposition to the Online News Act, saying “the legislation misrepresents the value news outlets receive when choosing to use our platforms.” The tech company further argued that publications benefit from its services more than the platforms do from such content.
However, Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge, who handles the government’s dealings with Meta, called the moved “irresponsible” in a Tuesday statement.
My statement on Meta blocking news on Facebook and Instagram ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/fO8KS9uMpn
— Pascale St-Onge (@PascaleStOnge_) August 1, 2023
“They would rather block their users from accessing good quality and local news instead of paying their fair share to news organizations,” the statement read. “Google and Facebook earn 80% of all digital advertising revenue in Canada. Meanwhile, hundreds of newsrooms have closed.”
This, of course, would leave little in the way of advertising dollars for publications, which have long relies on such revenue.
She added that other countries are looking at Canada and are considering taking similar action. In fact, Canada’s new law is not dissimilar to one passed in 2021 in Australia. Both Google and Meta made deals with Australian news companies after some changes were made to the law, Reuters reports.
In the case with Canada, however, both parties have not yet presented any indications of budging.
“We’re going to keep standing our ground,” St-Onge ended her statement saying. “After all, if the Government can’t stand up for Canadians against tech giants, who will?”
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.