Content from news outlets, including news publishers and broadcasters, will not be available on Facebook and Instagram in Canada if Bill C-18, the Online News Act, is passed into law, Meta announced late Thursday.
“As we prepare to comply with the legislation, we are announcing today that we will begin tests on both platforms that will limit some users and publishers from viewing or sharing some news content in Canada,” the company shared in a news release.
Meta says it’s testing a solution to end news availability in Canada as defined by Bill C-18, which is currently making its way through the Senate and anticipated to become law by the end of the month. During the testing period, which will run for several weeks, a small percentage of Canadian users enrolled in testing will be notified if they attempt to share news content.
News outlets will continue to have access to their accounts and Pages, and post news links and content, however, some of that content will not be viewable in Canada, including short-form video posted to Reels and Stories. Outlets will continue to have access to the Meta Business Suite and advertising tools. Meta says those enrolled in testing will have access to a review process if they believe they do not fall within the intended scope of the legislation.
“As we have repeatedly shared, the Online News Act is fundamentally flawed legislation that ignores the realities of how our platforms work, the preferences of the people who use them, and the value we provide news publishers,” Meta stated. “As the Minister of Canadian Heritage has said, how we choose to comply with the legislation is a business decision we must make, and we have made our choice. While these product tests are temporary, we intend to end the availability of news content in Canada permanently following the passage of Bill C-18.”
Meta previously blocked access to news in Australia that went so far as to prohibit users from outside the country to share links to news originating from Australian publishers. The company threatened earlier in the week to remove news from Facebook and Instagram in California as state lawmakers consider the Journalism Preservation Act, which would require Meta and Google to share revenue with media companies determined via an arbitration process.
“The fact that Facebook is still refusing to work with Canadians shows how deeply irresponsible and out of touch they are,” wrote Canadian Heritage Min. Pablo Rodriguez, in a post to Twitter. “Once again this is a disappointing move from big tech and Canadians will not be intimidated by these tactics.”
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