Meta announced its test to temporarily block news on its platforms in Canada, saying it could last until the end of the month. The decision is a preparation for Canada’s Online News Act or Bill C-18, which could require companies to pay publishers for using their content online platforms.
According to ABC News, the test will cover 5% of Meta’s 24 million Canadian users on Facebook and Instagram. Once implemented, the users won’t be able to share or view news on the said platforms, whether the news is from international or national media outlets. Moreover, those who will be affected won’t be able to access news links on different sections of the platforms, including on Reels.
The news is unsurprising, however, since the company already tried it in Australia. However, the test faced troubles, especially after the company seemingly mistakenly included emergency services pages. With this, the company made assurances as early as May that it wouldn’t happen again in Canada.
“It’s absolutely our intention to not make the same errors in Canada that we made in Australia,” Rachel Curran, head of public policy for Meta Canada, told CBC. “Some of the things that were mistakenly scoped in Australia, we’re working very hard to make sure we do not do that this time.”
Aside from Canada’s Online News Act, Meta is also expressing disapproval of California’s Journalism Preservation Act. This week, Andy Stone, Meta’s communications director, shared the company’s plan on Twitter in case the bill is passed.
“If the Journalism Preservation Act passes, we will be forced to remove news from Facebook and Instagram rather than pay into a slush fund that primarily benefits big, out-of-state media companies under the guise of aiding California publishers,” the statement reads. “The bill fails to recognize that publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves and that substantial consolidation in California’s local news industry came over 15 years ago, well before Facebook was widely used. It is disappointing that California lawmakers appear to be prioritizing the best interests of national and international media companies over their own constituents.”
The post attracted the attention of Matt Pearce, an LA Times reporter and president of the Media Guild of the West, who called Meta’s decision “corporate bullying.”