Meta threatens to cancel news sharing over Bill C-18

The lobbying has escalated and now the real question is whether Bill C-18, the Online News Act now being debated by a parliamentary committee, will end up being revamped or stay as is when an eventual vote takes place in the House of Commons.

On Friday, Reuters reported that Meta Platform Inc., formerly named Facebook Inc., had threatened to block sharing of news content on its platform in Canada over concerns about legislation that would compel digital platforms to pay news publishers.

In a blog post, Marc Dinsdale, head of media partnerships at Meta Canada, said the “legislation misrepresents the relationship between platforms and news publishers, and we call on the government to rethink its approach to help create a more fair and sustainable news industry in the long-term.

“The framework of the current legislation presumes that Meta unfairly benefits from its relationship with publishers, when in fact the reverse is true. Meta does not scrape content or links to news content. Posts with links to news articles make up less than three per cent of what people see in their Facebook Feed, and Canadians tell us they want to see less news and political content.

“We have repeatedly shared with the government that news content is not a draw for our users and is not a significant source of revenue for our company. Despite this, we’ve collaborated meaningfully with Canadian news providers to invest in partnerships and programs that support the development of sustainable business models for news organizations.”

Dinsdale went on to say, “faced with adverse legislation that is based on false assumptions that defy the logic of how Facebook works, we feel it is important to be transparent about the possibility that we may be forced to consider whether we continue to allow the sharing of news content in Canada.”

Reuters also reported that federal Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who introduced the bill, said in a statement on Friday that the government continued to have “constructive conversations” with Facebook.

“All we’re asking the tech giants like Facebook to do is negotiate fair deals with news outlets when they profit from their work,” he said.

Meta threatened similar action in Australia, but cancelled the move after a similar piece of legislation was amended.

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in freelance journalism. His work has appeared in a number of technology magazines and online with the subject matter ranging from cybersecurity issues and the evolving world of edge computing to information management and artificial intelligence advances.

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