Meta announced Tuesday it has started removing news articles for Facebook and Instagram users in Canada, a change made in response to the country’s Online News Act—a law that forces tech companies such as Meta and Google to pay news outlets for their content.
The law, which took effect on June 22, requires internet companies to negotiate commercial deals with news publishers for news articles and audio-visual content posted to their sites or apps.
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone wrote in a tweet Tuesday that “the law is based on a fundamentally flawed premise” and Meta’s only means of complying with it is to end news availability in Canada.
Meta has pushed against the law for several months, claiming posts with links to news articles make up less than 3% of what users see on their Facebook feeds and that the clicks it provides to news publishers were worth an estimated $173 million in free marketing.
Google is another tech giant refusing to take part in the change. In late June, the company announced it would remove links to Canadian news sites from search results in Canada. Kent Walker, Google’s president of global affairs, said the new law was “the wrong approach to supporting journalism in Canada.”
Canada’s parliament passed the Online News Act with 207 votes for and 116 against. Supporters of the act say it’s designed to rescue the country’s ailing news industry, which has struggled as big platforms take a large share of advertising revenue: Chris Brittle from Canada’s governing Liberal party said in May that 450 news outlets closed across Canada between 2008 and 2021, arguing remaining news publishers need more money to avoid closure. Such money, according to Brittle, should come from digital platforms like Meta and Google, which he said earned 80% of the country’s almost $10 billion in ad revenue in 2020.
What To Watch For
A similar law to Canada’s Online News Act may pass in California. The California Journalism Preservation Act passed through the state assembly in June and awaits a Senate hearing that was canceled in early July. Meta will block news access in the state if the act passes.
Canada’s new act is modeled after a similar law passed in Australia in 2021, which also requires companies like Meta and Google to pay a negotiated fee for news content or enter arbitration if a deal cannot be reached. An Australian government report said the change had largely worked in favor of news publishers, saying tech firms reached more than 30 compensatory deals with news outlets in the country. Google and Meta openly pushed back against the Australian law.
Google Removing All Canadian News Sites From Searches After Law Requires Payments For Outlets (Forbes)