A law known as the Online News Act has caused Facebook and Instagram to follow through with blocking all news stories in Canada.
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Meta said Thursday that it plans to follow through with a threat to block Canadians from sharing news on its platforms, after the federal government passed a law requiring digital firms to pay domestic media organizations for their content.
“We have repeatedly shared that in order to comply with Bill C-18, passed today in Parliament, content from news outlets, including news publishers and broadcasters, will no longer be available to people accessing our platforms in Canada,” the parent company of Facebook said in a statement.
The law, known as the Online News Act, is one part of a broad and contentious effort by the Canadian government to regulate the digital sphere and circumscribe the power of tech giants. Another law passed this year compelling streaming platforms such as Netflix to promote Canadian content to users in Canada also drew criticism.
It is also one of several similar proposals under consideration around the world that aim to sustain floundering news industries by requiring social media firms to negotiate compensation with media organizations for the content that is shared on their platforms.
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Media organizations have long argued that Silicon Valley giants should share more of their revenue with them because the advertising dollars that had long sustained their businesses were decimated by the rise of the internet and firms such as Facebook and Google.
Canada modeled its law after an Australian one that passed in 2021. California is considering a similar proposal. Meta’s response is also familiar. It had previously threatened to block news if California’s bill passes and briefly blocked news in Australia after its law was passed, drawing a backlash. Facebook relented less than a week later, after the government tweaked the law to grant the platform more time to negotiate with publishers.
Both Facebook and Google now strike deals with Australian news outlets to use their content on their platforms.
Trudeau has defended Canada’s legislation and accused the tech giants of employing “bullying tactics.”
“The fact that these internet giants would rather cut off Canadians’ access to local news than pay their fair share is a real problem,” Trudeau said this month. “It’s not going to work.”
Canada’s law will force tech companies to negotiate compensation deals with news organizations for posting or linking to their work. If those negotiations fail, the two sides must enter binding arbitration to decide the appropriate compensation.
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