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Facebook to Restrict Access to News Content in Canada

Facebook and Instagram will no longer provide access to news content in Canada due to a recent regulation requiring Facebook’s parent company, Meta, to pay Canadian news publishers. The legislation, known as the Online News Act, was approved by the Senate upper chamber and is awaiting royal assent from the governor general to become law.

The Online News Act was proposed in response to concerns raised by Canada’s media industry, which seeks increased regulation of tech companies to prevent them from dominating the online advertising market and pushing news businesses out. In a statement, Meta confirmed that news availability will be terminated on Facebook and Instagram for all Canadian users prior to the Online News Act’s enforcement.

Facebook had indicated its intention to implement this change for some time, arguing that news holds no economic value for the company and that its users primarily engage with the platform for purposes other than news consumption.

The legislation stipulates that platforms like Facebook and Google must negotiate commercial agreements with news publishers and compensate them for their content. This approach mirrors a significant law passed in Australia in 2021. However, American technology companies have expressed concerns over the viability of these proposals for their businesses. Google, in particular, contends that Canada’s legislation goes beyond the scope of the Australian and European laws by assigning a monetary value to news links displayed in search results, potentially affecting outlets that do not produce news.

Google has proposed revisions to the bill, suggesting that compensation should be based on the display of news content rather than links, and that eligibility should be limited to businesses that produce news and adhere to journalistic standards.

Previously, when similar regulations were introduced in Australia, Google and Facebook threatened to limit their services. However, they eventually reached agreements with Australian media companies following amendments to the legislation.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who introduced the bill, announced that the government would engage in a regulatory and implementation process after the legislation takes effect.

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