Last week, Meta removed access to all news sources for Canadian users on its social media platforms in response to federal legislation passed earlier this summer.
Free news or no news…
Dubbed The Online News Act, the law forces internet companies – think Meta, X (formerly Twitter), and Google – to pay any news publications that use their websites to share information. According to the Canadian government, the law aims to “[ensure] fair revenue sharing between digital platforms and news outlets” and “[facilitate] fair business relationships between digital platforms and news outlets.”
However, in an unprecedented move, Meta is opting to simply remove news access on its platforms for Canadian users altogether, as “links to news articles make up less than 3% of the content on its users’ feed[s].” A representative from Meta recently stated:
“The Online News Act is based on the incorrect premise that Meta benefits unfairly from news content shared on our platforms, when the reverse is true. News outlets voluntarily share content on Facebook and Instagram to expand their audiences and help their bottom line.”
The response to the censorship
Following Meta’s censorship, Canadian news publishers and broadcasters have come together to demand the organization reinstate access to their pages on Facebook and Instagram. They fear that restricting “reputable news organizations” will result in the rise of misinformation and “fake news,” as the group recently shared:
“If Meta is allowed to proceed unchecked, it could inflict significant damage to Canadian news organizations’ ability to offer quality news services to Canadians, which is critical to the functioning of a free and democratic society.”
Canada’s Heritage Minister, Pascale St-Onge, who is working to negotiate with the internet giant also commented:
“This is irresponsible. They would rather block their users from accessing good quality and local news instead of paying their fair share to news organizations… We’re going to keep standing our ground. After all, if the government can’t stand up for Canadians against tech giants, who will?”
One can’t help but appreciate the irony of the situation, considering the goal of the legislation was to “[sustain] the Canadian news ecosystem” – not annihilate it.
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