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Canadians’ access to news on Facebook and Instagram will be cut off in the coming weeks after Meta said Tuesday that a “fundamentally flawed” law is forcing the company to make the tough decision.
Canada’s Online News Act, passed by its leftist legislature earlier this summer, requires Big Tech companies to negotiate agreements with Canadian news outlets and pay them for news content shared on social media platforms, Reuters reported. Meta spokesman Andy Stone slammed the law in a tweet on Tuesday and said ending access to news on its platforms was the only option.
“Today we’ve begun the process of ending news availability in Canada. Changes will roll out over a few weeks,” Stone said. “As we’ve always said, the law is based on a fundamentally flawed premise. And, regrettably, the only way we can reasonably comply is to end news availability in Canada.”
Both Meta and Google said in June that they would fight the law by blocking access to news in Canada. The country’s move is part of a global trend to force Big Tech companies to pay for news shared on their platforms, according to Reuters. Australia passed a similar law in 2021, while France and Spain also have social media news laws on the books.
The trend is making its way to the U.S. as well, as lawmakers in California have advanced a bill with bipartisan support mirroring Canada’s Online News Act. Meta has also threatened to block news in California if the bill, dubbed the “Journalism Preservation Act,” passes the state Senate and gets signed into law by Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.
“If the Journalism Preservation Act passes, we will be forced to remove news from Facebook and Instagram, rather than pay into a slush fund that primarily benefits big, out-of-state media companies under the guise of aiding California publishers,” Stone said in a statement in May. “The bill fails to recognize that publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves and that substantial consolidation in California’s local news industry came over 15 years ago, well before Facebook was widely used.”
In Canada, Meta argued that news articles made up less than 3% of the content in users’ feeds and said news lacks economic value, but Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shot back, saying that Meta’s argument was “not just flawed, but dangerous to our democracy, to our economy.” Trudeau also accused the social media giant of being “deeply irresponsible and out of touch.”
Google said that Canada’s law is even broader than those passed in Australia and Europe, as it also can apply to outlets that do not produce news. In June, the tech company said it “informed the Government that we have made the difficult decision that when the law takes effect we will be removing links to Canadian news from our Search, News, and Discover products and will no longer be able to operate Google News Showcase in Canada.”