Meta announced last week that it would stop displaying news content
on Facebook and Instagram in Canada before the Online News Act (Bill C-18) takes effect. Meta has assured users that the change will not affect other content or services.
Bill C-18 passed the Senate and received Royal Assent on June 22, with the bill coming into effect in six months. The bill outlines the regulations stipulating that online tech giants like Google and Meta must compensate news outlets for their content.
The goal of the bill is to support the news industry in Canada
, where more than 500 news outlets have closed and 20,000 journalists have lost their jobs since 2008. By driving users back to the source of the content, news outlets can recuperate some of their lost advertising revenue.
Meta has vocally opposed the regulations, stating that it 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.” Google has also opposed the legislation
, arguing that “it may jeopardize current products, services and investments that benefit the news ecosystem and all Canadians.”
In anticipation of the bill’s passing, Meta started testing updates to its platform on June 1 to remove news content for Canadian users. The test impacts both Canadian and international news agencies. However, news outlets continue to have access to their accounts and pages, although some content may not be visible to users in Canada.
The Canadian law shares similarities with a 2021 Australian bill. During this time, Meta temporarily blocked Australian news from its platforms until they both reached a deal.
Supporters of the bill believe it is an important step forward to ensure the sustainability of the news industry, while opponents fear the strict regulations may open the door to increased misinformation.
Now that the bill has passed, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will establish the code of conduct to outline how negotiations between technology companies and news outlets should occur to ensure transparency in the process.
This is not the only law the Canadian government has passed in its effort to protect Canadian content providers. In May, it also passed a law (C-11) that requires tech giants to abide by the same regulations that impact television and radio broadcasting, which requires a minimum investment and time spent on playing Canadian content.