Facebook owner Meta carries out threat to block news in Canada

Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta is keeping its promise to block news content in Canada on its platforms in response to a new law that requires tech giants to pay publishers for linking to or otherwise repurposing their content online.

Google’s owner Alphabet has said it plans to do the same, although it does not appear to have followed through yet.

The company said in a June blog post that it will begin removing news links in the country when the law takes effect — expected in December.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Meta has threatened to block links to news sites in Canada for nearly a year in response to the law, which passed in late June.

The social media company said the Online News Act “is based on the incorrect premise that Meta benefits unfairly from news content shared on our platforms, when the reverse is true”.

The changes mean that people in Canada are not able to view or share news on Facebook and Instagram — including news articles, videos and audio posted by outlets inside or outside of Canada.

Links posted by Canadian outlets are still visible in other countries.

Minister of Canadian Heritage Pascale St-Onge called Meta’s move “irresponsible” on Elon Musk’s social media site X, formerly known as Twitter.

“They would rather block their users from accessing good quality and local news instead of paying their fair share to news organisations,” she said in a statement posted on August 1.

Last month, Canada’s government said it would stop advertising on Facebook and Instagram, in response to Meta’s earlier decision to block access to news content on its social platforms as part of a temporary test.

Meta has taken similar steps in the past. In 2021, it briefly blocked news from its platform in Australia after the country passed legislation that would compel tech companies to pay publishers for using their news stories.

It later struck deals with Australian publishers.

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