Meta Starts Blocking Canadian News Content

Meta Starts Blocking Canadian News Content
The logo of Meta Platforms' business group in Brussels on Dec. 6, 2022. (Yves Herman/Reuters)
Andrew Chen

Meta has announced it has started blocking news content for Canadian users on its platforms, following months of threats to strike back against the Online News Act, which mandates that major tech companies pay Canadian media outlets for news content linked on their platforms.

Starting Aug. 1, Meta begins the process of ending news availability in Canada, the company said in a statement. Over the next few weeks, all users accessing Facebook and Instagram in Canada will no longer be able to view news links and content posted by Canadian news publishers and broadcasters.
Meta said the news outlets to be affected will be identified based on legislative definitions and guidance from the Online News Act, also known as Bill C-18. The bill received royal assent on June 22.
Tech giant Google also said it would retaliate against the the new law. The company announced on June 29 it would remove links to Canadian news from its Search, News, and Discover products, while users in Canada will no longer be able to operate the Google News Showcase.

After being appointed the new heritage minister, Pascale St-Onge said her door is “always open” to negotiate with the tech companies, but that her government would not back down. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the issue a “dispute over democracy.”

On July 10, Heritage Canada said it would propose regulations to implement the act, which would include establishing a financial threshold for the contributions of tech companies.

The Epoch Times reached out to Heritage Canada for comment but didn’t immediately hear back.

Meta says the new legislation is based on an “incorrect premise,” that the company gains unfair benefits from news content shared on its platforms. The company also emphasized that the primary usage of its platforms doesn’t revolve around news consumption, arguing instead that news outlets voluntarily share content on Facebook and Instagram to expand their audiences and bolster their financial standing.

“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 said. “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.”

The company assured users that despite the changes regarding news content availability in Canada, their products and services would remain unaffected. Users will continue to have the ability to connect with friends and family, grow their businesses, and support their local communities as before, Meta says.

Matthew Horwood and Peter Wilson contributed to this report