Meta Inc. announced Thursday that it will remove news from Facebook and Instagram in Canada as a result of the passage of the Online News Act by the Canadian Senate. The legislation (formally Bill C-18) will force tech companies like Meta and Google to negotiate with news publishers and pay for their content.
Meta has been a vocal opponent of the Online News Act for some time, and Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Meta, said in a May statement, “The world is changing, and publishers, like everyone else, must adapt. Asking social media companies in 2023 to subsidize news publishers for content that isn’t as important to our users is like asking email providers to pay the postal service because people don’t send letters anymore.”
Meta also warned on June 1 that it would begin testing the removal of news from its apps in anticipation of the law’s passage. Bill C-18 will take effect six months after it is approved, according to the Associated Press.
Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has pushed back against Meta’s choice to remove news.” Facebook is well aware that they now have no obligations under the bill,” Rodriguez wrote on Twitter.” After the approval of Bill #C18, the government will be involved in the regulatory and implementation process.”
Google has also tested blocking news content for some Canadian users, but in a statement, the company said it is still working with the government to find a potential solution to the company’s concerns: “We’re doing everything we can to avoid an outcome that no one wants. Every step of the way, we have proposed thoughtful and pragmatic solutions that would improve the bill and clear the way for us to increase our already substantial investment in the Canadian news ecosystem. So far, none of our concerns have been addressed.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the company was in “last-minute negotiations” with the government, according to the National Post.
Meta has removed entire countries from the news in the past. The company pulled news content from Australia’s Facebook in 2021 in opposition to a law similar to Canada’s but brought it back after the Australian government changed the law.