Meta again confirms its working on a strategy to block news access in Canada

Google also tested a similar strategy in February

Meta logo on sign

Meta is repeating its promise to block the ability of Facebook and Instagram users in Canada to access news content on the platforms if Bill C-18 becomes law.

Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, said the Online News Act is “based on a fundamentally flawed premise.” The act would force companies like Meta and Google to pay publishers for the content they share on their platforms.

Clegg says Facebook users don’t use the platform to primarily access news, with less than three percent of content being news stories.

But Clegg says its news publishers who find sharing links on Facebook “valuable.” The company estimates Facebook sent Canadian news publishers more than 1.9 billion clicks between April 2021 and 2022.

“Publishers choose to share their content because it drives traffic to their websites. It helps them sell more subscriptions, grow their audience and display their ads to more people than they might have otherwise,” Clegg said in a statement Meta posted on its website.

Clegg was set to deliver the statement to Canadian Heritage’s May 8th committee meeting. However, Clegg didn’t attend the session, and representatives from Meta’s team in Canada replaced him.

Rachel Curran, the company’s public policy head for Canada, said Meta is working on a strategy to block news links in Canada. Curran promised the removal would be transparent and not follow similar problems Australia saw in 2021 when its government introduced a similar bill. “It is absolutely our intention to not make the same errors in Canada that we made in Australia,” Curran said.

Meta says Curran didn’t attend the committee meeting after its title changed from ‘The Response of Companies in the Information Technology Sector to Bill C-18’ to ‘Tech Giants’ Current and Ongoing Use of Intimidation and Subversion Tactics to Evade Regulation in Canada and Across the World.’

Google also previously took action, blocking some Canadians from accessing news through the search engine and Google Discover on Android.

Image credit: Shutterstock