Meta’s news blockade is the direct consequence of Bill C-18
The government’s poorly designed bill created this problem, and now they must fix it.
AUGUST 1 2023 — Today Meta began blocking Canadian news across their platforms in response to Bill C-18, The Online News Act. Both Meta and Google announced their plans for news blocking shortly after Bill C-18 passed in June 2023, and Google has indicated they may also begin blocking news later this year. Canadians and our news organizations now face the prospect of fewer clicks to Canadian news sites, less access to quality information, and no new funding for journalism – all because of C-18’s poorly designed structure.
“Bill C-18 has been a slow-motion catastrophe and Canadians are the ones paying the price, ” said OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matt Hatfield. “Tech platforms told the government for many months that if C-18 passed as written, they’d block news sharing. Now Meta is doing exactly what they said they would. Millions of Canadians will now lose access to a diverse range of news sources, without a single dollar of news funding being produced. That’s why we’re calling on the government to scrap this design of Bill C-18 and replace it with an independent funding model that serves ordinary people in Canada, instead of one that actually blocks our access to news sharing.”
“There’s going to be more pressure for Canadians to find their own way to quality news sources in the months ahead, particularly if Google joins Meta’s blockade,” continued Hatfield. “People should remember the open Internet still exists, and they can use alternate platforms and search engines other than Google and Meta, use a VPN to dodge the blocks, or visit the websites and apps of their favourite news outlets directly. That said, the market dominance that Meta and Google enjoy is a huge reason today’s decision is so impactful and disruptive, and we urge the government to reform our competition and privacy laws to encourage a less centralised Internet.”
Bill C-18 requires Google and Meta to pay media outlets for their users sharing news content on their platforms. Although positioned as a solution to Canada’s struggling news industry, the bill has been criticised for disproportionately supporting broadcast and large media outlets, and for giving platforms the ability to escape its effects by limiting the availability of news to Canadians on their platforms.
Since May 2022, OpenMedia community members have sent over 13,000 messages to MPs, Senators, and the Department of Canadian Heritage calling for greater transparency and protections to support quality news in Canada in Bill C-18. OpenMedia will soon launch a new campaign to help community members participate in the CRTC’s public consultation.