Meta has made good on its threat to block news via Facebook and Instagram in Canada.
Starting Tuesday, Aug. 1, Meta is ending the availability of news for Facebook and Instagram users in Canada. Meta’s decision to block news-related content for Canadian users is in response to the Online News Act, which was passed by Canada’s Parliament in June 2023.
Following in the footsteps of similar laws proposed in Australia and California, the Online News Act (Bill C-18) “ensures fair revenue sharing between digital platforms and news outlets.” In other words, Canada’s government wants tech giants like Meta and Google to pay Canadian news outlets for driving valuable traffic and profiting from posts published on their sites. Local newsrooms in particular have been greatly impacted by social media’s disruption of the traditional news distribution model.
In response, Meta says, the legislation “is based on the incorrect premise that Meta benefits unfairly from news content shared on our platforms, when the reverse is true.” Meta had been threatening to block news in Canada instead of engaging with Canadian lawmakers and has instead decided to comply with the law by removing access to news on its platforms altogether.
Canadian journalists and news outlets have already begun reporting on the effects of Meta’s decision. Local newsrooms that were already vulnerable to the whims of Meta’s publishing policies now have zero visibility on its platforms. “This fight with Meta is making that harder and harder. Our livelihoods are at stake,” Tweeted Christopher Curtis, co-founder of a newsletter called The Rover. The accounts from Cult MTL and indigenous writer Anna Mary McKenzie also tweeted about their content being blocked.