Facebook to Limit Canadian Access to News as Bill C-18 Heads for Royal Assent


Millions of Canadians Face News Blackout on Facebook and Instagram

OTTAWA – TECH – Facebook threw a digital curveball on Thursday, announcing that it will restrict access to news for millions of Canadians on its platform. This move comes as a direct response to the government’s online news act, which successfully passed through the Senate on the same day.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, declared that both social media platforms would impose a news blackout before the act comes into play, likely in six months.

The decision to cut off news access was taken after the online news act, also known as Bill C-18, passed the Senate, sans the modifications that the tech behemoth had been advocating for. The decision is set to dash the government’s hopes that Bill C-18 would encourage the tech giant to enter more agreements with news outlets for posting and linking to their work.

Background on Bill C-18

Bill C-18, commonly referred to as the online news act, is a legislative measure aimed at ensuring that tech giants like Facebook pay news publishers for the content shared on their platforms. The bill’s objective is to balance the digital landscape by ensuring that revenue from online advertising, which is dominated by tech giants, is shared with those who produce the news. However, critics of the bill argue that it could limit the free flow of information and negatively impact the digital ecosystem.

Impact on Facebook and Instagram Users

In the wake of Facebook’s announcement, users of Facebook and Instagram are likely to lose access to news from Canadian publishers and certain overseas publishers, such as the New York Times. These publishers would have been eligible for payments under the legislation. The news blackout will remain in effect unless the government can strike an eleventh-hour agreement with the tech giant to keep it on board.

As Bill C-18 moves towards Royal Assent, Facebook’s decision to limit news access underscores the tension between tech giants and governments worldwide as they grapple with the changing dynamics of the digital news landscape.

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