It will soon be impossible for Canadians to get information on Facebook or Instagram. “Today, we confirm that news content will no longer be available on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada,” their parent company, Meta, said in a statement.
At the origin of this decision: a law just ped in the country which obliges the giants of the web to pay to diffuse the contents of the local media. The American company, created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, claims to have warned “repeatedly” that this measure would be taken if the law were to be adopted.
A sector in crisis
With this law, the Canadian government wishes to support the information sector in Canada which, according to the Minister of Heritage, Pablo Rodriguez, is “in crisis”. More than 450 Canadian news outlets have closed their doors since 2008. “If the government can’t defend Canadians against the internet giants, who will? “, was moved the minister in reaction to the decision of Meta. Facebook had “no obligation” to cut off this access, as the law had not yet formally entered into force, he added.
The law – hailed by the Canadian press – was to force digital giants to enter into fair trade agreements with Canadian media for publications shared on their platforms, or risk having to resort to binding arbitration. It could enable the Canadian media to collect 300 million Canadian dollars each year, or nearly 208 million euros, according to Bill Grueskin, professor of journalism at Columbia University.
A shortfall for the web giants who refuse to pay for content that has no economic advantage for them. In recent months, Meta and Google were already conducting tests on a small part of the Canadian population, restricting their access to news sites.
A “deeply irresponsible” decision
A strategy far from seducing Justin Trudeau. Last month, the Canadian Prime Minister harshly criticized Meta’s position. According to him, the company is “deeply irresponsible and out of touch” by refusing to pay journalists for their work.
New discussions could however take place. The Heritage Minister’s office stressed that it had “met with Facebook and Google this week” and remained open to further discussions.
For her part, Google spokeswoman Jenn Crider said the company was doing “everything to avoid an outcome that no one wants” and was seeking to work with the government “to move forward”. The web giant claims to have proposed amendments to the law but “so far, none of our concerns have been taken into account,” said Jenn Crider.
Neighboring rights in Europe
Canada is not alone in putting pressure on tech giants. His bill is inspired by the one adopted in 2021 by Australia . Facebook and Google had reached agreements at the time to avoid being subject to binding arbitration.
Faced with the same situation, the European Union has introduced in 2019 a “neighboring right” which must allow the remuneration of press publishers for the content used through online platforms. After reluctantly Google signed agreements in November 2021 with French newspapers. A world first.