The media organizations who ran to the government demanding money to compensate for their failure to successfully compete in the free market will now have even less revenue than before.
Canada is taking another step towards being a more closed and isolated nation.
Despite having been warned over and over again that Bill C-18 would result in the end of news content being shared on Facebook & Instagram, the Liberal government pushed ahead with the legislation anyway.
The Liberal effort has been spurred on by a struggling news industry that – having failed to compete successfully in the free market – demanded government intervention to force large tech platforms to pay for links, an absurd notion that is nothing more than a thinly-veiled shakedown.
Unsurprisingly, since platforms like Facebook could comply with the legislation by simply refusing to allow any news content to be shared, rather than paying for links, they’ve chosen the former.
And now, the inevitable is happening.
Meta – parent company of Facebook and Instagram – has announced that news sharing on their platform is in the process of being permanently ended.
Meta’s full statement can be read below:
“In order to comply with the Online News Act, we have begun the process of ending news availability in Canada. These changes start today, and will be implemented for all people accessing Facebook and Instagram in Canada over the course of the next few weeks.
For Canadian news outlets this means:
News links and content posted by news publishers and broadcasters in Canada will no longer be viewable by people in Canada. We are identifying news outlets based on legislative definitions and guidance from the Online News Act.
For international news outlets this means:
News publishers and broadcasters outside of Canada will continue to be able to post news links and content, however, that content will not be viewable by people in Canada.
For our Canadian community this means:
People in Canada will no longer be able to view or share news content on Facebook and Instagram, including news articles and audio-visual content posted by news outlets.
For our international community this means:
There is no change to our services for people accessing our technologies outside of Canada.
A Business Decision to Comply with the Online News Act
Nearly one year ago, we shared our concerns that the Online News Act would force us to consider whether to continue allowing the sharing of news content on our platforms. We have been transparent and have made it clear to the Canadian government that the legislation misrepresents the value news outlets receive when choosing to use our platforms. The legislation is based on the incorrect premise that Meta benefits unfairly from news content shared on our platforms, when the reverse is true. News outlets voluntarily share content on Facebook and Instagram to expand their audiences and help their bottom line. In contrast, we know the people using our platforms don’t come to us for news.
While the process of drafting regulations under the Online News Act is ongoing, that process is unfortunately not equipped to make changes to the fundamental features of the legislation that have always been unworkable. The only way we can reasonably comply with this legislation is to end news availability for people in Canada. We are announcing these changes, that begin today, to provide clarity to the millions of Canadians and businesses who use our platforms.
Canadians will always be able to use our technologies to connect with friends, families and groups, engage with their local communities and discover something new.
Collaboration on Accessing News Online
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. Meta collaborated with Québec digital literacy expert Nellie Brière to equip people with information about how they can continue to access local news and information online. Find the guide here.
We are proud of the role we have played to support a healthy and diverse news ecosystem. Our free tools and services created pathways for local publishers to connect with their communities and for established media outlets to continue to grow their audiences – free marketing which generated more than CDN $230 million in estimated value in a twelve month period. In the future, we hope the Canadian government will recognize the value we already provide the news industry and consider a policy response that upholds the principles of a free and open internet, champions diversity and innovation, and reflects the interests of the entire Canadian media landscape.”
One one hand, the Liberals will be happy about this. An even more financially desperate media will turn to the government for more funding, and will be more incentivized to try and boost the political fortunes of a free spending Liberal government rather than more fiscally-responsible Conservatives.
The Liberals under Justin Trudeau have also shown a growing luddite tendency, seeing free speech, free expression, and an open internet as a threat, and demonizing tech companies for short-term political gain.
But when it comes to the media organizations that pushed for Bill C-18, this is an unmitigated disaster. They will now end up not only without any of the new revenue Bill C-18 promised them, they will end up with a significant loss of revenue from the decline in traffic.
Worst of all, many independent media outlets could lose out, despite those outlets having spoken out against Bill C-18 and having advocated for open, free market competition.
Because of Bill C-18 and because of the Liberal refusal to listen to legitimate criticism, the information landscape in Canada is becoming less and less free. And in a world where economic prosperity and cultural creativity all depend on the free exchange of ideas, this is a dangerous road for Canada to be heading down.