Facebook and Instagram will limit access to news in Canada

After the contentious passage of an online news bill by the Canadian government, Meta has announced that it will begin restricting access to its news content for Canadian users.

The bill mandates that large platforms provide financial compensation to news publishers for articles that are published on their website. Both Meta and Google have already been conducting tests to see whether or not some Canadians should be restricted from accessing news websites.

In 2021, as a result of a similar regulation, Facebook users in Australia were prevented from accessing or sharing news stories on the platform. The Canada Online News Act, which was passed by the Canadian Senate on Thursday, stipulates that platforms such as Google and Meta must negotiate commercial agreements and pay news organizations for their content.

Meta has referred to the law as "fundamentally flawed legislation that disregards the realities of how our platforms function."

On Thursday, it was announced that all Canadian Facebook and Instagram users will lose access to news content prior to the bill's implementation. A legislative framework that requires them to pay for links or content that they do not post and that are not the primary reason the vast majority of people use their platforms is neither sustainable nor practical, a spokesperson for Meta told sources

The company stated that the modifications to news would not affect other services for Canadian users. Google termed the bill's current form "impractical" and stated that it would work with the government to find a "way forward."

According to the federal government, the online news bill is necessary "to enhance fairness in the Canadian digital news market" and to permit struggling news organizations to "secure fair compensation" for news and links shared on the platforms.

An independent parliament budget watchdog estimated in its analysis of the measure that news organizations could receive approximately C$329 million ($250 million; £196 million) annually from digital platforms.

Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez told sources earlier this month that the tech platforms' experiments were "unacceptable" and a "threat." Following discussions with the Australian government that resulted in modifications, Facebook has returned news material to its users in that country.

The office of Mr. Rodriguez stated on Thursday that he had spoken with both Google and Facebook this week and anticipated further conversations; but, the government will press forward with the execution of the measure.

He posed this question in the form of a statement: "If the government can't stand up for Canadians against tech giants, who will?" The passing of the law was praised as a step towards market fairness by groups representing the media business.

Real journalism, which is written by real journalists, is still required by Canadians and is essential to our democracy, but it takes real money, Paul Deegan, president and chief executive officer of News Media Canada, said in a statement. News Media Canada is an industry association that represents the Canadian media business. The Online News Act is anticipated to go into effect in Canada in approximately six months.