Facebook could ban news sharing in Canada if the country passes legislation forcing the company to pay news channels for their content (through The Wall Street Journal). In a post shared on fridayFacebook parent company Meta says Canada’s proposed Online News Act falsely assumes it “inappropriately takes advantage of its relationship with publishers.”
First introduced in April, the Online News Act forces online platforms like Facebook and Google to share revenue with the publishers from whom they collect their news. The aim of the bill is to ensure that news broadcasters are fairly compensated for their work. Canada’s House of Commons Heritage Committee held a meeting on the legislation last week, but Meta says it was not invited.
While Google later backtracked on its plans after making deals with media organizations, Facebook only reversed its news ban after Australia changed its laws. Facebook’s temporary ban affected not only news outlets, but also messages from government agencies, such as local fire and health departments. Earlier this year, a group of Facebook whistleblowers claimed the move was a bargaining tactic, with Facebook claiming that Facebook used too broad a definition of what is considered a news publisher to cause chaos in the country. The company insists the disturbance was “unintentional.”
“We may be forced to consider whether we will continue to allow sharing of news content on Facebook in Canada as defined in the Online News Act”
Now Facebook is willing to block news in Canada if the country doesn’t change its laws. Meta says posts linking to news stories make up less than three percent of content on users’ Facebook feed, adding that the content “is not a draw for our users” nor is it a “significant source of revenue.”
“If this draft legislation becomes law, creating unprecedented forms of financial liability for news links or content worldwide, we may be forced to consider whether we continue to allow sharing of news content on Facebook in Canada, as defined in the Online News Act,” Meta said. .
Meta also claims that news channels benefit from posting their stories on Facebook, not the other way around. In May, Meta says registered news publishers in Canada received more than 1.9 billion clicks over the past 12 months, yielding an estimated CAD value of $230 million. Google also spoke out on the legislation at last week’s meeting, saying it will “make it more difficult for Canadians to find and share reliable and authoritative news online,” and that publishers are already benefiting from the traffic they receive from Google.
Pablo Rodriguez, the Canadian Heritage Secretary, said in a statement obtained by the WSJ that Facebook continues to “pull out of their playbook used in Australia”. “All we ask of tech giants like Facebook is to make fair deals with news outlets if they take advantage of their work,” explains Rodriguez.