At the start of the month, Facebook’s parent company Meta announced via blog post its intent to remove availability of all news content from FB and Instagram in Canada, should the government pass its proposed Online News Act. On Thursday, Canadian Parliament did just that and, within hours, Meta confirmed it will make good on its threat.
“Today, we are confirming that news availability will be ended on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada prior to the Online News Act (Bill C-18) taking effect,” the company posted. “We have repeatedly shared that in order to comply with Bill C-18, passed today in Parliament, content from news outlets, including news publishers and broadcasters, will no longer be available to people accessing our platforms in Canada.”
The Online News Act is designed to address the precipitous drop in advertising revenue Canadian news organizations have experienced over the past two decades. It does so by requiring big tech companies like Google and Meta to negotiate reimbursement plans with those outlets for running said stories on their respective platforms.
Earlier in June, Meta announced that it was working to develop a software-based solution to its C-18 issue. As of Thursday, those efforts remain ongoing “and currently impact a small percentage of users in Canada.” Aside from the loss of news functionality, Meta assures its users that no other aspects of the Facebook experience will be impacted.
This isn’t the first time that Meta has picked up its toys and gone home in response to attempted government oversight. In 2021, the company removed its news features from the Australian market after the country passed similar compensation legislation — even going so far as to prevent publishers from linking to their posts on the social media platform. That move negatively impacted the pages of multiple Australian government agencies as well as numerous nonprofit organizations from the region before being reversed.
“This legislation sets a precedent where the government decides who enters into these news content agreements, and ultimately, how much the party that already receives value from the free service gets paid,” William Easton, Facebook’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, wrote in a blog post at the time. “We will now prioritize investments to other countries, as part of our plans to invest in new licensing news programs and experiences.”
Google, which would also be affected by the bill’s implementation, has not yet announced any plans to officially cut service in the nation. It did begin testing a means of blocking news access in Canada in February.
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