In a move that has been met with widespread criticism, Meta has begun removing Canadians’ access to all news on Facebook and Instagram. The move is in response to a new law in Canada that requires tech giants to pay news publishers for their content.
Canada’s Online News Act, passed by its leftist legislature earlier this summer, requires Big Tech companies to negotiate agreements with Canadian news outlets and pay them for news content shared on social media platforms, Reuters reported. Meta spokesman Andy Stone slammed the law in a tweet on Tuesday and said ending access to news on its platforms was the only option.
“Today we’ve begun the process of ending news availability in Canada. Changes will roll out over a few weeks,” Stone said. “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.”
The country’s move is part of a global trend to force Big Tech companies to pay for news shared on their platforms, according to Reuters. Australia passed a similar law in 2021, while France and Spain also have social media news laws on the books.
“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,” Stone said in a statement in May. “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.”
However, critics of Meta’s move say that it is a clear attempt to censor news that the company does not agree with. They also say that the move will harm Canadian news organizations, which are already struggling to survive.
“This is a clear attack on free speech,” said one critic. “Meta is trying to silence news that it doesn’t like, and that is a dangerous precedent.”
The move by Meta has also been condemned by the Canadian government. “This is a clear attempt by Meta to bully Canadian news organizations,” said a government spokesperson. “We will not stand for this.”
BREAKING: All news in Canada will be removed from Facebook, Instagram within weeks: Meta https://t.co/zyxt2r11Aa
— CTV News (@CTVNews) August 1, 2023