Meta plans to end access to news on Facebook and Instagram in Canada in response to legislation that would require internet giants to pay news publishers. The legislation, known as the Online News Act, was approved by the country’s Senate on Thursday. The law will force internet giants to negotiate compensation deals with news publishers for posting or linking to their content.
“We are confirming that news availability will be ended on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada prior to the Online News Act (Bill C-18) taking effect,” Meta said in a blog post. “We have repeatedly shared that in order to comply with Bill C-18, content from news outlets, including news publishers and broadcasters, will no longer be available to people accessing our platforms in Canada.”
Meta has made its position on the matter evidently clear ever since the legislation was first proposed in 2021. Last year, the company threatened to block the sharing of Canadian news content unless the government amended the legislation. The company began blocking news on Facebook and Instagram for some users in Canada earlier this month. Now that the bill has been approved by the country’s Senate and will become law after receiving royal assent from the governor general, which is a step that is seen as a formality, Meta is ready to fulfill its threats.
Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez pushed back on Meta’s decision in a tweet on Thursday.
“Facebook knows very well that they have no obligations under the act right now,” the tweet reads. “Following Royal Assent of Bill #C18, the Government will engage in a regulatory and implementation process. If the Government can’t stand up for Canadians against tech giants, who will?”
It’s worth noting that Meta isn’t the only internet giant that is displeased with the legislation. Earlier this year, Google launched tests that block access to news content for some users in Canada. A spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch in an email that it’s doing everything it can “to avoid an outcome that no-one wants.”
“Every step of the way, we’ve proposed thoughtful and pragmatic solutions that would have improved the Bill and cleared the path for us to increase our already significant investments in the Canadian news ecosystem,” the company said in a statement. “So far, none of our concerns have been addressed. Bill C-18 has now become law and remains unworkable. We are continuing to urgently seek to work with the government on a path forward.”
Canada’s law is similar to one that Australia passed in 2021. Meta pulled news content from the country once the law passed, but later brought it back after the Australian government amended the legislation to give the platform more time to negotiate with publishers.