Facebook to block news access in Canada
Facebook will no longer allow news access on its site in Canada, due to a recent regulation that forces Facebook's parent company Meta to pay Canadian news publishers. The Canadian news restriction will also apply to Meta's other popular social media app, Instagram.
The legislation, known as the Online News Act, was approved by the Senate upper chamber earlier on Thursday and will become law after receiving royal assent from the governor general, a formality.
The legislation was proposed after complaints from Canada's media industry, which wants tighter regulation of tech companies to prevent them from elbowing news businesses out of the online advertising market.
"Today, we are confirming that news availability will be ended on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada prior to the Online News Act taking effect," Meta said in a statement.
Facebook had telegraphed such a move for weeks, saying news has no economic value to the company and that its users do not use the platform for news.
The act outlines rules to force platforms such as Facebook and Alphabet's Google to negotiate commercial deals and pay news publishers for their content, a step similar to a groundbreaking law passed in Australia in 2021.
The U.S. technology companies have said the proposals are unsustainable for their businesses. Google has argued Canada's law is broader than those enacted in Australia and Europe, saying it puts a price on news story links displayed in search results and can apply to outlets that do not produce news.
The search engine giant proposed that the bill be revised to make the displaying of news content, rather than links, as the basis for payment and to specify that only businesses that produce news and adhere to journalistic standards are eligible.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Meta and Google were using "bullying tactics" as they campaign against the legislation. Google and Facebook had also threatened to curtail their services in Australia when similar rules were passed into law. Both eventually struck deals with Australian media companies after amendments to the legislation were offered.
Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who introduced the bill last year, said on Thursday that the government "will engage in a regulatory and implementation process" after the legislation comes into effect.