News Media Canada, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) and CBC/Radio-Canada are calling on the Competition Bureau to investigate Meta’s decision to block news from its platforms in Canada.
The applicants are asking the Bureau to use its investigative and prosecutorial tools to prohibit the digital giant from continuing to block Canadians’ access to news content. They’re also asking that Meta be prohibited from discriminating, by algorithm or any other means, against content from news organizations.
“Meta’s practices are clearly designed to discipline Canadian news companies, prevent them from participating in and accessing the advertising market, and significantly reduce their visibility to Canadians on social media channels,” the applicants stated in an announcement Tuesday morning. “Meta’s anticompetitive conduct, which has attracted the attention of regulators around the world, will strengthen its already dominant position in advertising and social media distribution and harm Canadian journalism. Through Facebook and Instagram, which together account for more than 70 per cent of the online social media market in Canada, Meta effectively has substantial control over access to Canadian news.”
The application maintains that Meta is continuing to abuse its dominant position, as evidenced by similar tactics used in other jurisdictions, including Australia.
“Canada is not the first country where web giants like Meta have attempted to leverage their dominant positions through the blocking strategy Meta is employing in Canada,” states the application. “This type of blocking strategy or other means to unilaterally dictate the rules of the game are widespread and can be seen on a global scale.”
“Meta’s conduct will inevitably diminish Canadian news consumers’ exposure to news content and the volume of traffic to Canadian news organizations’ websites, thereby impairing their ability to compete for revenue from online advertising and from their readers,” it continued. “If Meta is allowed to proceed unchecked, it could inflict significant damage to Canadian news organizations’ ability to offer quality news services to Canadians, which is critical to the functioning of a free and democratic society.”
Meta confirmed last week, news blocking will be enacted for all Canadians using Facebook and Instagram over the next few weeks.
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