Meta officially begins blocking media content on its platforms in Canada

Meta on Tuesday began blocking Canadians from accessing media content on Facebook and Instagram, in compliance with a new law that forces digital technology giants to pay publishers.

Meta said that links and content published by Canadian and foreign media “will no longer be visible to people in Canada” on its platforms, noting that the measure will be fully implemented in the “coming weeks”.

According to Meta, links to news articles make up less than three percent of the content on its users’ pages, and the company argued that news lacks economic value.

“News outlets voluntarily share their content on Facebook and Instagram to expand their readership and increase their bottom line,” said Rachel Curran, Mita’s director of public policy in Canada.”On the contrary, we know that the people who use our platforms do not come to us for news,” she added, according to Reuters.

Pascale St-Onge, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, has not responded to a comment request. It is St-Onge who oversees the government’s interactions with Meta.

Numerous Canadian social media users have shared screenshots displaying inaccessible media accounts.

The Canadian Public Broadcasting Corporation said that the content that Radio Canada shared on one of its Facebook pages was blocked minutes after it was published, according to “Agence France Presse”.

The Online Information Act, known as C-18, was passed in June, similar to a similar measure in Australia since 2021, to support Canada’s ailing media sector.

The law obliges digital giants to enter into fair agreements with local media outlets to use their content on their platforms, under penalty of binding arbitration.

According to a parliamentary report published in October 2022, the legislation could provide Canadian newspapers with nearly 330 million Canadian dollars ($248 million) annually in revenue.

The parent company of Facebook and Instagram asserts that the law is founded on a misconception that Mita unfairly benefits from shared news content on its platforms. However, the reality is quite the opposite.

According to the giant American group, the media voluntarily uses Facebook and Instagram to “increase their readers and enhance their profits,” knowing that “it is not the news that drives people to use our platforms.”

For its part, Google plans to adopt a similar procedure when “the law enters into force”, that is, during the next few months, at a time when several countries are watching with interest the confrontation between Ottawa and the Internet giants.

Canadian legislation bears resemblance to a law enacted in Australia in 2021, which led to Google and Facebook threatening to limit their services in response.

However, both companies eventually reached agreements with Australian media companies following the introduction of amendments to the legislation. The revised framework not only ensured compliance but also fostered fruitful partnerships between the entities involved

Google contends that Canadian law surpasses the legislation in Australia and Europe in terms of its comprehensiveness. This is due to its implementation of a monetary value on hyperlinks to news articles that appear in search results. Furthermore, it encompasses outlets that are not directly involved in news production.

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