Meta will be removing news from Facebook and Instagram in Canada now that the country’s Senate has passed the Online News Act, the company announced on Thursday. The legislation, officially Bill C-18, will force tech companies like Meta and Google to negotiate with news publishers and pay them for their content.
Meta has been a vocal opponent of the Online News Act for some time. “The world is constantly changing and publishers, like everyone else, have to adapt,” Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, said in a statement in May. “Asking a social media company in 2023 to subsidize news publishers for content that isn’t that important to our users is like asking email providers to pay the postal service because people don’t send letters any more.” Meta also warned on June 1st that it would begin testing the removal of news from the apps in anticipation of the passage of the law. Bill C-18 will take effect six months after it gets royal assent, according to the Associated Press.
Pablo Rodriguez, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, has pushed back on Meta’s choice to pull news. “Facebook knows very well that they have no obligations under the act right now,” Rodriguez wrote on Twitter. “Following Royal Assent of Bill #C18, the Government will engage in a regulatory and implementation process.”
Google has also tested blocking news content for some Canadian users, but in a statement to The Verge, the company said that it’s still working with the government on a potential solution that would address the company’s concerns.
“We’re doing everything we can to avoid an outcome that no-one wants,” Google spokesperson Jenn Crider said in a statement to The Verge. “Every step of the way, we’ve proposed thoughtful and pragmatic solutions that would have improved the Bill and cleared the path for us to increase our already significant investments in the Canadian news ecosystem. So far, none of our concerns have been addressed.”
According to National Post, the company is in “last-minute talks” with Rodriguez as of Thursday afternoon.