Social media giant Meta says it has officially begun ending news availability on its platforms in Canada starting Tuesday.
Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, has been signalling the move was coming after the government passed its Online News Act, Bill C-18, in June.
The law requires big tech giants like Google and Meta to pay media outlets for news content they share or otherwise repurpose on their platforms.
“In order to provide clarity to the millions of Canadians and businesses who use our platforms, we are announcing today that we have begun the process of ending news availability permanently in Canada,” Rachel Curran, Meta’s head of public policy in Canada, said in a statement.
WATCH | Meta restricting news content on its platforms in Canada
The company had previously been blocking news content for some Canadians in preparation for C-18 becoming law. That is now being extended Canada-wide.
Canadians will no longer be able to view or post news content on Facebook or Instagram. News outlets, including international ones, will start having their content blocked on those platforms.
Implementing the changes on the company’s platforms is expected to take a few weeks.
“In the future, we hope the Canadian government will recognize the value we already provide the news industry and consider a policy response that upholds the principles of a free and open internet,” Curran said in her statement.
- How would being blocked from accessing news on Facebook and Instagram affect you? What other questions do you have? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The government introduced the law arguing that tech giants have gobbled up a large share of advertising dollars that news outlets traditionally relied on.
Last month the federal government suspended its advertising on Facebook and Instagram in response to Meta promising to permanently end news availability.
Despite receiving royal assent in June, C-18 has yet to come into force.The Department of Canadian Heritage is still drafting regulations on how the law will be implemented.
Newly appointed Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge said Meta has refused to participate in the regulatory process.
“This is irresponsible,” she said in a statement. “They would rather block their users from accessing good quality and local news instead of paying their fair share to news organizations.”
St-Onge said the government will continue to “stand its ground” and suggested other countries are considering drafting similar legislation.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre put the responsibility squarely at the feet of the Liberal government.
“It’s like Nineteen Eighty-Four,” he said. “Who would ever have imagined that in Canada the federal government would pass laws banning people from effectively seeing the news?”
News content will still be available online on publishers’ platforms.
Martin Champoux, heritage critic for the Bloc Québécois, accused Meta of trying to intimidate parliament into rescinding the law.
“This deplorable decision serves no one. In fact, the big losers are the users who will be deprived of their news on social networks,” Champoux said in a statement in French.
Bill C-18 is modelled on a similar law in Australia, the country that first forced digital companies to pay for the use of news content.
Meta, known as Facebook at the time, temporarily blocked Australians from sharing news stories on its platform. The Australian government and the tech company ended up striking a deal and the news ban was lifted.
Former heritage minister Pablo Rodriguez said in the past that he hoped the Liberal government could negotiate a similar agreement with Meta that allows news to remain available on the company’s platforms and also follows the rules laid out in C-18.
But Curran told CBC in June that the Australian law was different because it allowed the company to negotiate private deals with publishers outside of the framework of the regulations. C-18 does not, she said.
As a news organization, the CBC could see a financial benefit under C-18, which requires the CBC provide an annual report on any compensation for news it receives from digital operators.