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Facebook and Instagram’s News Sharing Restrictions in Canada: Implications and Challenges

A new Canadian law appears to be on the verge of requiring online platforms to compensate news organisations for linking to their material.

Following parliament-approved laws requiring it to pay news publishers, Meta stated this week that it will begin censoring news on Facebook and Instagram. 

The Online News Act, a contentious measure, passed the Senate on Thursday, but Meta has already tested restricting access to selected Canadians. 

While the legislation does not restrict platforms from publishing news, it does force them to enter into business relationships and get content licencing. The response of the technological behemoth has been to remove news off the site.

The Law Is Considering to Be “Fundamentally Flawed”

While the law is not unique to Meta, the technological behemoth is speaking out the most, calling it “fundamentally flawed legislation that ignores the realities of how our platforms work.” In its current form, the law is also deemed “unworkable” by Google.

According to a Meta spokesman, a legislative framework that demands us to pay for links or information that we do not post and that are not the reason the vast majority of users use our platforms, is neither practical nor workable.

While this argument is valid, the measure was designed to “enhance fairness” and preserve the long-term viability of the digital journalism sector. Concerns have recently been made that tech giants have cornered the market for internet advertising, depriving news sites of much-needed money. 

An independent parliament budget monitor examined the measure and calculated that internet platforms may pay news outlets $329 million per year – nearly $250 million in US currency.

Meta confirms that these adjustments will have no effect on other services for Canadian users.

This is not the first bill of its type.

Due to a similar regulation, Australian users were barred from sharing or reading news on Facebook in 2021. However, following discussions with the administration and legislative changes, Facebook reinstated its news material.

While IT giants may hope for a similar outcome in Canada, staunch proponents of the bill appear less inclined to engage in any potential future discussions. Canadian lawmakers have lavished praise on this action, which is considered as a step towards market justice.

According to Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, if the government cannot stand up to internet behemoths, who will? 

However, Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, has warned that this move might be harmful to independent media sites, which may not have the same reach without social virality.

The Online News Act will go into force in Canada in six months.

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