Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta announced it will begin the process of ending news availability in Canada for its Facebook and Instagram platforms starting Tuesday.
This means Canadian users will no longer see news links and news content posted on their social media feeds.
The social metaverse company announced the move in its online Meta newsroom, stating the entire process would take place throughout the next few weeks and affect all Facebook and Instagram users in the Great White North.
Meta said the decision is in direct response to the controversial Online News Act passed by the Canadian parliament last month.
The legislation, which will take effect later this fall, would force all digital platforms to negotiate deals with local news organizations and pay for the content they produce.
Alphabet’s Google said it will also pull news content from Facebook and Instagram users in Canada prior to the bill taking effect, calling the new legislation “unworkable.”
"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," Meta spokesperson Andy Stone posted on X Tuesday.
In the lead-up to the parliamentary vote, the bill’s author, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriquez, said the government would not back down, labeling Google and Meta “deeply irresponsible” and “out of touch.”
For more than a year, Meta said it had been sharing concerns and had been transparent with the Canadian government about possible actions taken if the bill was passed.
“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 said in Tuesday’s statement.
"We are proud of the role we have played to support a healthy and diverse news ecosystem," the social media giant said.
“In the future, we hope the Canadian government will recognize the value we already provide the news industry and consider a policy response that upholds the principles of a free and open internet, champions diversity and innovation, and reflects the interests of the entire Canadian media landscape,” Meta concluded.
Meta’s main argument against the bill claims that tools and services offered on Facebook and Instagram created pathways for local publishers to connect with their communities and for established media outlets to continue to grow their audiences, all for free.
Meta estimates the free marketing generated for those news organizations is equivalent to more than CDN $230 million ($175 million USD) annually.
Some X users applauded Meta’s decision, “Well done – it's the correct response to a crazy law," posted @SeanDaveyRyan.
Other users, not so much. X's @ZabogaMiloga message to Meta; “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
Well done - it's the correct response to a crazy law.undefined Sean Ryan (@SeanDaveyRyan) August 1, 2023
Don’t let the door hit you on the way outundefined Mr Tito 🗣 (@ZabogaMiloga) August 1, 2023
What it means for users
Meantime, Meta laid out specifically how the new move would affect the individual user, as well as both local and international news outlets.
- Canadian news outlets – News links and content posted by news publishers and broadcasters in Canada will no longer be viewable by people in Canada.
- International news outlets – News publishers and broadcasters outside of Canada will continue to be able to post news links and content; however, that content will not be viewable by people in Canada.
- Canadian community – People in Canada will no longer be able to view or share news content on Facebook and Instagram, including news articles and audio-visual content posted by news outlets.
- International community – There is no change to our services for people accessing our technologies outside of Canada.
Meta reminded Canadian Facebook and Instagram users that the platforms will always be available to connect with friends, families, and groups, engage with their local communities, and discover something new.
Australia passed a similar bill in 2021, but media outlets there were able to successfully negotiate with Google and Meta, keeping news accessibility intact.
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