Meta Threatens To Block News Access For Canadians If Legislation Passes

Meta said it would end news access on its platforms for Canadians if the country passes legislation requiring companies like Meta and Alphabet parent Google to pay news outlets for linking to news articles, Reuters reports(Opens in a new window).

Known as the Online News Act, or Bill C-18(Opens in a new window),  Meta has criticized the planned legislation for compelling it to pay for content it does not post but is instead shared by its users. 

In its protests against the Canadian legislation, Meta has stressed that news content is neither the main reason people use its platforms nor does it represent a significant revenue source for the company. The company has also criticized the legislation for not reflecting the interests of small independent media outlets that benefit from the sharing of news content. 

Speaking to Reuters, Meta spokesperson Lisa Laventure said of the plans: “A legislative framework that compels us to pay for links or content that we do not post, and which are not the reason the vast majority of people use our platforms, is neither sustainable nor workable.”

The company first made its position clear last year when it released a statement(Opens in a new window) opposing the basic premise of the bill, stating that “posts to links to news articles make up less than 3% of what people see in their Facebook Feed.” 

The move comes after Google started blocking links(Opens in a new window) to news stories for 4% of the Canadian population as part of tests in response to the bill.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is trying to get the Online News Act passed, slammed the move(Opens in a new window) as a “terrible mistake” that meant Google opted to “prevent Canadians from accessing news” over “paying journalists for the work they do.” 

In an open letter on its blog(Opens in a new window), Google Canada’s Managing Director Sabrina Geremia said, “Bill C-18 puts a price on free links. When you put a price on linking to certain information, you no longer have a free and open web. Requiring payment based on linking encourages cheap clickbait, not quality journalism.”

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