Meta says it will ban the sharing of news articles on its platforms after Canada passes the Online News Act, which requires compensation from online platforms to news sites.
(Credit: Getty Images/franckreporter)
Facebook and Instagram users in Canada may need more photos of babies, pets and food, because in less than six months they won’t be able to share feed links on those platforms.
Meta said it will impose that ban after Canada’s Parliament passed legislation(Opens in a new window) that will require large online platforms to compensate Canadian news sites within the next six months.
“Today, we are confirming that news availability will end on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada before the Online News Act (Bill C-18(Opens in a new window)) comes into effect,” says Meta(Opens in a new window).
The Online News Act (Opens in a new window) establishes a binding arbitration system between each “digital news intermediary” (defined as “an online communications platform, including a search engine or social networking service ” that makes news content available in Canada ) and media outlets designated by the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (Opens in a new window) if there is “a significant imbalance in bargaining power” between the intermediary and those means.
The bill defines making news widely available to include only links to it: reproducing “the news content, or any part of it” or allowing access to it “by any means, including a index, aggregation or classification of news content”. It also defines “media outlet” broadly to cover any general interest newsroom that employs at least two journalists in Canada and operates in accordance with recognized codes of journalistic ethics.
C-18 further imposes nondiscrimination requirements on online platforms, which the commission must enforce. The language there does not address actions taken against news sites that spread misinformation, though it allows the commission to consider whether a platform’s conduct coincided with its “normal course of business.”
The bill also allows the commission to exempt an online platform from this system of impending arbitration if the platform reaches its own agreements with Canadian news companies that “provide for fair compensation” and covers “news companies that reflect a diversity of business models that provide services. to all markets and diverse population”, among other qualifications.
Meta’s Thursday response followed the company’s previous objections to this bill.
A May 1 post (Opens in a new window), for example, quoted Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg: “Publishers choose to share their content because it benefits them to do so, while it’s not particularly valuable to us.” . He added that news links make up less than 3% of the content in the Facebook feed, while Meta estimated that those links generated more than 1.9 billion clicks on Canadian news sites from April 2021 to April 2022.
A similar argument played out in Australia in early 2021, when Facebook responded to a new law requiring news compensation by preventing users from viewing or sharing news content, and also blocked the pages of Australian news sites and shares of his work around the world. The company relented and restored news sharing in Australia weeks later after amending that bill and has since signed separate agreements with news publishers that have resulted in it not being appointed to that law’s binding arbitration.
California is now considering its own news sharing bill, resulting in a warning from Facebook that you can pull news from Facebook and Instagram in your own state.
Google, which would also be covered by C-18 and has been subject to similar measures for the past decade, had not posted a comment on the passage of the Canadian bill on its Canada blog (Opens in a new window) until Friday. tomorrow. However, in a March 10 post (Opens in a new window), Sabrina Geremia, Google Canada’s vice president and national general manager, warned that charging for links would pollute the news ecosystem.
“When you price links to certain information, you no longer have a free and open web,” he wrote. “Requiring link-based payment encourages cheap clickbait, not quality journalism.”
Geremia’s post added that Google has already signed agreements with “more than 150 Canadian publications” to license their content on the Google News Showcase (opens in a new window), an enhanced online newsstand that Google now plans to bring to the US. USA later this summer. .
In a post Friday morning(Opens in a new window), Michael Geist, a law professor and copyright expert at the University of Ottawa, called the passage of C-18 “a legislative mess that doesn’t let clear winners” and a missed opportunity to push through rules on privacy and artificial intelligence more forcefully.
“Bill C-18 threatens to create a Canadian news vacuum on Facebook and Instagram, an outcome that will increase the visibility of low-quality feeds and lead to millions in lost traffic and revenue for the bill’s purported beneficiaries. Geist wrote. “Losing those free referral links will have a detrimental effect on those media outlets and undermine competition, leading to reduced traffic, less ad revenue, and fewer subscribers.”