Canada stops advertising with Facebook and Instagram in news row
Facebook and Instagram are being pulled by the Canadian government as a source of advertising.
A new law requiring tech companies to pay media for news led parent company Meta to restrict news content for Canadians.
In response to Meta’s threats, Canadian officials said on Wednesday that they stand by the law.
According to them, they have been in contact with other countries planning similar legislation.
When Bill C-18 – also known as the Online News Act – goes into effect in about six months, Google plans to block Canadian news in the country.
However, Canadian officials are optimistic they can negotiate a deal with Google’s parent company Alphabet that will prevent the block.
Google is going to war with Canada, and it might not win
“Google’s concerns can be met by what we plan to do with the regulations,” said Minister of Heritage Pablo Rodriguez.
Unlike Meta, Mr Rodriguez said, the government has not engaged with Meta on a path forward in the same way.
He added, “Meta does not speak to us,” and that blocking Canadian news was “unreasonable and irresponsible.”
Approximately C$10m ($7.54m; £5.93m) will be lost as a result of Canada removing all advertising from Meta’s platform, according to Rodriguez.
He did not say whether the advertising pull would apply to Meta’s new platform Threads, which is due to debut on Thursday as a rival to Twitter. The move would however, in theory, affect all platforms under the parent company, according to Rodriguez.
For Meta, whose annual revenue in 2022 will exceed $116 billion, the loss of government advertising is a drop in the bucket. Canada, however, is determined not to be intimidated, Rodriguez said.
According to him, he hopes it will inspire other companies, including Canadian ones, to follow suit. The Quebecor and Cogeco media companies are also pulling Meta ads.
Meta said in a statement to the BBC that Bill C-18 is flawed legislation that ignores the reality of how platforms operate.
According to the company, publishers choose to post on Facebook and Instagram because it benefits them.
For struggling news organizations to share news and links fairly, the government claims the bill is necessary.
It was tweaked after Meta briefly blocked its users from sharing or viewing news on its platform in Australia in 2021, similar to Bill C-18.
In the months since the amendments were made, Google and Meta have negotiated more than 30 deals with Australian media companies.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that Bill C-18 has become a global test case.
In the words of Mr Trudeau, the goal of companies like Meta is to make an example of us.
According to him, Facebook decided Canada was small enough to reject our request. “By attacking Canada, they made the wrong choice.”
In addition to the UK, Indonesia and Brazil, Rodriguez said Canada has been discussing its legislation with other countries looking to pass similar legislation.
A number of US senators and pundits have also backed Canada.
In an opinion piece published Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times, columnist Brian Merchant said “Canada must never yield to the tech giants’ tantrum”.
A similar bill is currently being pushed in Washington DC by Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic senator from Minnesota.
Canadians have already been restricted from accessing news in tests, and Meta will implement a complete blackout soon.
While trying to view news content on Instagram, some users have reported seeing a message saying “In response to Canadian government legislation, news content cannot be viewed in Canada.”.