NEWS28 June 2023

Facebook and Instagram restrict news access in Canada

Media News North America Public Sector

CANADA – Facebook and Instagram have confirmed the social media platforms will restrict access to online news content in Canada as a result of the country’s parliament passing a law requiring fair compensation for publishing news articles online.

Canada flag city_crop

The Online News Act, which received royal assent in Canada, requires large digital platforms to negotiate voluntary commercial agreements with news businesses for the use of their news content on their services.

The Canadian government said the law seeks to address the imbalance between digital platforms and Canadian news businesses by encouraging fair compensation for news content shared on those platforms, which the government said benefits platforms directly through advertising income and indirectly through user engagement and subsequent targeted advertising.

Between 2008 and 2020, overall revenue for broadcast television, radio, newspapers and magazines fell by nearly $6bn in Canada, with at least one third of Canadian journalism jobs disappearing between 2010 and 2016 and 474 news media outlets having closed in the country since 2008.

However, in statement, Meta said the Online News Act was a “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”.

It said that content from news outlets, including news publishers and broadcasters, would therefore no longer be available to people accessing its platforms in Canada. 

The statement added: “The changes affecting news content will not otherwise impact Meta’s products and services in Canada.

“We want to assure the millions of Canadians on our platforms that they will always be able to connect with friends and family, grow their businesses and support their local communities.”

Pablo Rodriguez, minister of Canadian heritage, said: “A free and independent press is fundamental to our democracy. Thanks to the Online News Act, newsrooms across the country will now be able to negotiate fairly for compensation when their work appears on the biggest digital platforms.

“It levels the playing field by putting the power of big tech in check and ensuring that even our smallest news business can benefit through this regime and receive fair compensation for their work.”