May 30, 2024

The ability to view and share news on media platforms is no longer accessible to Canadians. A standoff between the federal government and tech companies continues with no reasonable end in sight. In response to the passing of Bill C-18 in Parliament, tech giant Meta has continued blocking the act of viewing news on their platforms Facebook and Instagram.

Bill C-18 is an act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada. The law requires tech businesses such as Google and Meta to secure fair compensation to media organizations if they wish to host Canadian news content on their platforms.

Meta posted a news release stating the changes being implemented for all users across Canada, which was updated on Aug. 1, 2023. As for the international news outlets nothing has changed besides the fact that their content will not be available to view by Canadians.

The ban covers news articles, audio-visual content, news links, publishers, and broadcasters.

“People in Canada can continue to access news online by going directly to news publishers’ websites, downloading mobile news apps, and subscribing to their preferred publishers,” said Meta in the news release.

Companies like Google have concerns with the newly passed law as it “remains unworkable,” the search engine said in a blog post. Technology companies, critics contend, don’t want to have to pay fees to news organizations when users post articles or videos.

Users have been voicing their views and opinions over the new Instagram and Facebook developments.

“This whole process of Bill C-18 and Bill C-11, I think has been handled relatively poorly and is flawed,” said Carlos Benevides, Broadcast Radio Professor at Conestoga College.

He goes on to compare the Canadian legislation to the 2021 Australian legislation where Facebook temporarily blocked news on its platforms across Australia.

A deal was struck a week later, and the restrictions stopped, unlike in Canada where no compromising has begun.

“I think in the long term it’s something that needs to happen. It’s going to be a positive change,” said Benevides.

Although Meta and Google disagree with the passed law, news content will still be available online on publishers’ platforms.

“We need to build a culture of appreciation for journalism and people need to value it enough to pay for subscriptions,” said Benevides in an interview.

As for the future of journalists, the push for readers to access news websites instead could boost revenue for the industry.

The revenue issue contained in Bill C-18 is the large, predicted amount that will shift back to the news industry estimated by the Parliamentary Budget Office.

The government sees this as a positive reinforcement because it enhances fairness in the Canadian digital news market.

“To me it is a matter of fairness,” said Todd Vanderheyden, CTV News Anchor.

Vanderheyden believes that this change could be bad news for Canadian journalists, as these platforms are now one less avenue for their work to be shown on. He hopes for a happy medium between companies where some of the money from the tech giants, finds its way back into Canadian journalism. “If you’re going to use something, you should have to help to pay for it,” said Vanderheyden.

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