Meta intends to restrict access to news on Facebook and Instagram in Canada in reaction to legislation requiring internet companies to pay news publishers. The bill, known as the Online News Act, was passed by the Senate of the country on Thursday. The regulation requires internet companies to establish pay agreements with news publishers in exchange 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.”
Since the law was first presented in 2021, Meta has made its view on the issue quite known. Last year, the business threatened to halt the distribution of Canadian news articles unless the government changed the law. Earlier this month, the corporation began limiting news on Facebook and Instagram for some Canadian customers. Meta is ready to fulfill its threats now that the measure has been adopted by the country’s Senate and will become law after getting royal approval from the governor-general, which is considered a formality.
In a tweet on Thursday, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez reacted to Meta’s decision.
“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 mentioning that Meta isn’t the only online behemoth unhappy with the legislation. Google started tests earlier this year that restrict access to news articles for some Canadian customers. In an email, a corporate spokeswoman told TechCrunch that the business is doing everything possible “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 passed by Australia in 2021. When the law was passed, Meta removed its news content from the country but then returned it after the Australian government revised the laws to give the platform more time to negotiate with publishers.