Meta to Test Blocking News for Some Canadians Before New Law

    Meta will be testing blocking news content in Canada for some users. The test will affect between 1 and 5 percent of Facebook and Instagram users. Affected users won’t be able to view or share any news content. The test will affect both Canadian and international media outlets.

    If the Online News Act is passed, a permanent ban will be implemented. The bill, which is also called Bill C-18 by some, is intended to force platforms such as Meta and Google into negotiating with Canadian publishers in order to pay them for their content. Meta, however, has stated that it would prefer to block all news content within Canada than to be forced to pay.

    In a statement released last month , Meta’s President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg stated that the company had taken the “difficult decision” to stop providing news content in Canada if the flawed legislation was passed. Google, a platform that is also likely to be affected by the legislation , announced similar news-blocking tests in February. It has also said it will remove links to Canadian news articles from search results if this bill passes.

    When a large tech company threatens to pull the plug if we don’t comply with their demands, that’s a warning.

    Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, that Meta’s test results were unacceptable. When a large tech company threatens to pull the plug if we don’t comply with their demands, that is a threat. “I’ve never done something because I was scared of a danger,” Rodriguez said.

    In comments, Rodriguez stated that “all we ask Facebook to do is to negotiate fair deals with media outlets when they benefit from their work.” This is part of the disappointing trend that tech giants are unwilling to pay their fair share.

    Meta’s tests are a little more than two years after completely blocked news content in Australia as a response to a similarly piece of legislation. The block was criticised for its chaos implementation. It was also criticized by whistleblowers who claimed that it was a aggressive negotiating tactic. Meta reversed the block later after the legislation was changed. Later that month , the law was passed.

    Rachel Curran told the House of Commons Heritage Committee that “it is our absolute intention not to make the same mistakes in Canada as we did in Australia.”

    Curran noted that Meta was working to ensure that pages of government agencies, emergency services and community organizations are not blocked.

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