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Meta Begins Blocking News Content on Instagram, Facebook in Canada

The NAB condemns the move, saying "Meta is holding news content on its platform hostage"

On Aug. 1, Meta announced that it will begin to block news content from its Facebook and Instagram platforms in Canada. This announcement follows the passage of the “Online News Act” in June, which requires tech giants like Meta (formerly the Facebook company) and Google to negotiate deals for news content.

According to the Canadian government, the Online News Act “ensures fair revenue sharing between digital platforms and news outlets” and “promotes voluntary commercial agreements between digital platforms and news outlets, with minimal government intervention.”

Tech giants that have been able to use news content for free in their search engines and social media platforms have furiously attacked the law, and threatened to remove news content rather than pay for it. Now, both Google and Meta have said they will remove the content altogether, with changes to follow in the coming weeks.

“Today we’ve begun the process of ending news availability in Canada,” a Meta spokesperson posted on the X (formerly Twitter) platform. “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.”

Kent Walker, the president of global affairs at Google and Alphabet, said in a blog post July 29, “The unprecedented decision to put a price on links (a so-called ‘link tax’) creates uncertainty for our products and exposes us to uncapped financial liability simply for facilitating Canadians’ access to news from Canadian publishers.”

In response to Meta blocking news on Facebook and Instagram for Canadian users after the passage of Canada’s Online News Act, NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt and CAB President Kevin Desjardins released the following statement:

“As national associations representing broadcasters in the U.S. and Canada, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) strongly urge lawmakers to support legislation that enables news providers to negotiate with dominant digital platforms for fair terms and conditions when our content appears on their platforms.

“Meta — a nearly trillion-dollar company — repeatedly chooses to restrict news content for its users to avoid compensating news producers for the value it gains on their vital journalism. These retaliatory tactics demonstrate Meta’s monopolistic dominance over the advertising marketplace and its ability to dictate how radio and TV broadcasters, newspapers and others can reach audiences online. Rather than working to ensure its users have access to trusted news and information, Meta is holding news content on its platform hostage.

“Policymakers should not reward Meta’s coercive behavior. At a time when misinformation, disinformation and AI-generated content proliferate online, the future of democracy relies on the accessibility of fact-based, trustworthy journalism.”

Canada’s public broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada also issued a public statement blasting Meta, calling the decision “unjust” and “an abuse of their market power.”

“Meta’s move to deny Canadians access to domestic sources of trusted news and verified information — especially at a time when Canadians are depending on it to stay safe from the harmful effects of unprecedented weather events across much of the country — is irresponsible and an abuse of their market power,” said the CBC in a statement.

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