Meta threatens to block news content in Canada over media revenue-sharing legislation

The company isn't happy about the country's proposed Online News Act.

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Igor Bonifacic
October 22, 2022 5:14 PM
PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 03: In this photo illustration, The logos of applications, WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram and facebook belonging to the company Meta are displayed on the screen of an iPhone on February 03, 2022 in Paris, France. Share prices for Facebook's parent company, Meta, slumped in after-hours trading after the company reported that social network's daily active users declined to 1.929 billion in Q4 of 2021 from 1.930 billion in the previous quarter. Facebook is losing users for the first time in its history, Mark Zuckerberg's company has seen its profits decline, and the transition to the metaverse promises to be chaotic. (Photo illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)
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Facebook parent company Meta says it may stop Canadians from sharing news content in response to the country’s proposed Bill C-18 legislation. Introduced by the ruling Liberal government earlier this year, The Online News Act seeks to force platforms like Facebook into revenue-sharing partnerships with local news organizations. The legislation is modeled after Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code, which the country successfully passed in early 2021 after considerable resistance from Google and Meta.

In a blog post published late Friday, Meta said it wanted 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 threat came after the House of Commons Heritage Committee did not invite Meta to a meeting about the legislation earlier in the week. The panel did hear testimony from Google, though only after the company asked to be included in the proceedings.

“We have always approached our engagement with Canadian public authorities on this legislation in the spirit of honest and fair debate, and so were surprised not to receive an invitation to participate, particularly given public comments by lawmakers that this law is targeted at Facebook,” Meta said following the snub. The Canadian government and social media giant have had an acrimonious relationship ever since CEO Mark Zuckerberg and former COO Sheryl Sandberg ignored subpoenas from the parliament’s ethics committee in 2019.

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The bill’s sponsor, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, accused Meta of using the same playbook the company employed in Australia. “All we’re asking the tech giants like Facebook to do is negotiate fair deals with news outlets when they profit from their work,” he told The National Post. Among other objections, Meta claims news content is not a significant source of revenue for the company. When Australia enacted its News Media Bargaining Code, Meta briefly cut access to all news content within the country. However, the company eventually signed agreements with organizations like News Crop to carry their coverage.

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Meta threatens to block news content in Canada over media revenue-sharing legislation