Social media companies have been forced to compensate news publishers after a law was passed requiring them to post content from news publishers on their sites. The federal government and technology companies are clashing over revenue and content sharing, leading a group of Canadian news media companies to ask the country’s competition regulator to intervene.
It looks like Meta’s decision to bar Canadians from viewing news on Facebook and Instagram was anti-competitive conduct, warned News Media Canada and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters on Tuesday.
Bill C-18, the Online News Act, was passed by the Canadian government earlier this year. Meta and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, will compensate publishers for linking to and hosting content on Canadian journalism outlets, according to the governing Liberals.
New regulations are expected to increase costs for companies, however. Facebook and Instagram will be unable to show news to Canadians due to C-18, according to social media giant Meta. On 8 August, it made good on its threat, applying a full block. As of yet, Google has not removed links from search results despite its early warning.
As well as the Ottawa Times, Global Canada, Guardian, the Washington Post and the New York Times, Meta’s decision applies to Canadian content. According to the Online News Act, Meta unfairly benefits from the distribution of news content on our platform when the reverse is true. Meta says news outlets use social media platforms to expand audiences and make more money.
Using blocking strategies like Meta’s in Canada is not a new practice for web giants like Meta. Globally, these blocking strategies or other methods of unilaterally dictating rules are widely used,” the publishers’ group said. A free and democratic society cannot function without quality news services being offered to its citizens by Canadian news organizations if Meta proceeds unchecked.
Meta claims it is abusing its dominant market position to get regulator attention.
To address concerns raised by the companies, Ottawa proposed new regulations last month to soften its position on the law. When Pablo Rodriguez was heritage minister, but has since left that post, he suggested limiting Alphabet and Meta’s contribution to the country’s news industry.