• Tech - News - Tech Companies
  • Updated: June 02, 2023

Meta Test To Limit News Posts For Facebook, Instagram Users In Canada

Meta has disclosed that it will start testing restrictions on Facebook and Instagram that "limit some users and publishers from viewing or sharing some news content in Canada," according to a blog post.

The latest development comes in response to Canada's proposed Online Sharing Act.

The "small percentage" of users who will be impacted by the tests will be informed if they attempt to share news material over the course of several weeks. 

"As we have repeatedly shared, the Online News Act is fundamentally flawed legislation that ignores the realities of how our platforms work, the preferences of the people who use them, and the value we provide news publishers," the company wrote.

The current Liberal administration submitted the new bill, also known as Bill C-18, earlier this year.

It intends to compel online companies like Facebook into revenue-sharing agreements with regional news organisations.

It is modelled after a comparable Australian law. It resulted in part from Facebook and Google's hegemonic position in the internet advertising sector, where they collectively accounted for 80% of income.

Last year, Meta said it was trying to be "transparent about the possibility that we may be forced to consider whether we continue to allow the sharing of news content in Canada."

The company made the threat after a government panel failed to invite Meta to a meeting about the legislation.

Google also temporarily blocked some Canadian users from seeing news content. 

According to Reuters, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez responded by calling the tests "unacceptable." 

"When a big tech company... tells us, 'If you don't do this or that, then I'm pulling the plug' — that's a threat.

"I've never done anything because I was afraid of a threat," he told Reuters. 

After ultimately consenting to the Australian legislation, Facebook, Google, and other companies now pay publishers to display news links with samples.

Facebook, however, made good on its vow to forbid users from sharing news links throughout the country prior to that.

After subsequent conversations and after the government made changes to accommodate Facebook's concerns about the value of its platform to publishers, it later revoked the ban.

For the time being, the test will only have a minimal impact on a select group of people.

To drive the government and publishers to the negotiating table, Meta may decide to stop news sharing for all users in Canada if it pursues the same strategy it used in Australia.

"As the Minister of Canadian Heritage has said, how we choose to comply with the legislation is a business decision we must make, and we have made our choice," the company wrote.

"While these product tests are temporary, we intend to end the availability of news content in Canada permanently following the passage of Bill C-18."

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Lawrence Agbo
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