Meta has begun blocking news content in Canada over a new law forcing the company to pay publishers.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has begun blocking news content in Canada over a proposed law that will force the tech giant to begin paying publishers for content.
“We’ve begun the process of ending news availability in Canada. Changes will roll out over a few weeks,” said Andy Stone, head of communications at Meta.
“As we’ve always said, the law is based on a fundamentally flawed premise. And, regrettably, the only way we can reasonably comply is to end news availability in Canada.”
On social media, several Canadians shared screenshots on Tuesday showing inaccessible media accounts.
Content shared by Radio Canada on one of its Facebook pages was blocked minutes after it was posted, the public broadcaster said.
Canada’s Online News Act (Bill C-18) is modelled after similar legislation introduced in Australia and aims to help the struggling Canadian media sector.
It forces tech giants to enter into fair trade agreements with local media for the content broadcast on their platforms, with a penalty of binding arbitration.
According to a parliamentary report published in October 2022, the legislation could provide Canadian newspapers with around 330 million Canadian dollars (€226 million) per year.
But according to Meta, news organisations voluntarily use Facebook and Instagram to increase their readership and profits.
“This is irresponsible,” said Canada’s heritage minister Pascale St-Onge in a statement.
“They would rather block their users from accessing good quality and local news instead of paying their fair share to news organisations”.
She added that Google and Facebook earn 80 per cent of all digital ad revenue in Canada.
“A free and independent press is fundamental to our democracy,” the minister added, pointing out that other countries are considering imposing similar laws.
Google has said it would remove news links in Canada as well once the law enters into force.