It’s official: Canadian Internet users can no longer share news on Facebook and Instagram. If they try to share news articles, they’ll be greeted by an error message stating that the post’s content is not visible to people in Canada. Beyond the political tug-of-war between Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, and Ottawa, what exactly is this new law and who does it affect?
A bit of context
Recently, the Online News Act, or Bill C-18, has many Canadians worried about news access and the bill will likely continue being on the receiving end of harsh criticism. According to the federal government, this law aims to increase fairness between news producers and the major web platforms that use their content. The aim is to promote a fair and viable Canadian digital news market for media companies.
In other words, web platforms and web companies who profit from publicizing news articles need to fairly pay the news businesses that produce the content.
Which media companies are covered by this law?
Companies who primarily produce news content are covered by the law. This includes newspapers, magazines and radio stations that “reports on, investigates or explains any current issues or events of public interest”, regardless of the medium.
To be legally considered a news business, one of the following four conditions must be met:
- Be a qualified Canadian journalism organization,
- Follow the code of ethics of a recognized journalistic association or have their own code of ethics that respects recognized processes and principles of journalism,
- Hold a license delivered by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, or
- Qualify as an Indigenous news outlet.
Web platforms and web companies strike back
In response to this law, Meta has decided to make it impossible to share Canadian news on its platforms, Facebook and Instagram. Internet users can no longer share news, either by creating new posts or by sharing other forms of content.
Facebook and Instagram aren’t the only ones fighting against this new law. Google will also soon be removing Canadian news from its platforms. Links to Canadian news articles on its search engine, Google News and Google Discover will be unavailable to Canadian publishers and users.