Meta has announced plans to withdraw all news content off Facebook and Instagram in Canada in advance of the implementation of a new law requiring the platforms to split money with publishers.
The Online News Act, commonly known as Bill C-18, will require large technology corporations to reimburse news publishers for information that appears on their platforms, including Google.
Ottawa has said the law creates a level playing field between online advertising giants and the shrinking news industry.
Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has promised to push back on what he describes as “threats” from Facebook and Google to remove journalism from their platforms.
Meta’s plan to comply with the new law by blocking all news will also likely be harmful for news organisations, who derive web traffic from stories posted to Facebook and Instagram. The tech giant did not offer details about the timeline for the move, with the bill set to come into force six months after it receives royal assent.
Meta, which is based in Menlo Park, California, has taken similar steps in the past.
In 2021, it briefly blocked news from its platform in Australia after the country passed legislation that would compel tech companies to pay publishers for using their news stories. It later struck deals with Australian publishers.
Laura Scaffidi, a spokesperson for the minister, said Mr Rodriguez was set to have a meeting Thursday afternoon with Google, which has hinted that removing news links from its popular search engine is a possibility. The company didn’t provide comment on the matter.
Meta is already undergoing a test that blocks news for up to five percent of its Canadian users, and Google ran a similar test earlier this year.
The Online News Act requires both companies to enter into agreements with news publishers to pay them for news content that appears on their sites if it helps the tech giants generate money.