Logo of Meta Platforms is seen in Davos
Meta's threat of pulling news availability for Canadian users is no longer just empty words, as the company confirmed that it will enforce the block before C-18 takes effect. Reuters


  • Canada's Heritage Minister seems unfazed by Meta's announcement
  • Meta previously denied that it benefited unfairly from news content shared on its platforms
  • Google has also raised concerns about the bill

Meta has announced that it is withdrawing news availability on Facebook and Instagram for Canadian users before the country enforces its newly-passed Online News Act or Bill C-18.

"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 social media giant said Thursday.

After receiving royal assent Thursday, Canada's Bill C-18, which requires internet companies to pay news publishers, is expected to take effect six months later.

Pablo Rodriguez, Canada's Heritage Minister, said the act "will help make sure tech giants negotiate fair and equitable deals with news organizations."

"A strong, independent and free press is fundamental to our democracy," he said after the bill was passed into law.

Despite the decision to pull out news from Facebook and Instagram in Canada, Meta reiterated that Canadian consumers "will always be able to connect with friends and family, grow their businesses and support their local communities."

Meta did not provide a timeline on when it will start pulling out news availability on its platforms for Canadian users.

Last month, Meta's president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, was supposed to attend a hearing at Canada's Heritage Committee to discuss the response of tech companies to the draft of Bill C-18.

Meta said it was informed that the committee changed the hearing's title to "'Tech Giants' Current and Ongoing Use of Intimidation and Subversion Tactics to Evade Regulation in Canada and Across the World," causing the company to withdraw Clegg's appearance at the hearing.

The social media giant published Clegg's supposed opening statement at the hearing wherein Clegg was looking to tell Canadian lawmakers that "the Online News Act is based on a fundamentally flawed premise" that Meta benefits "unfairly" from the news content social media users post on its platforms.

Clegg's opening statement also insisted that news story links on Facebook make up "a tiny proportion" of posts users make on the platform.

When asked about Meta's announcement regarding blocking news content for Canadian users, Rodriguez said the company has no obligations under Bill C-18. "If the government can't stand up for Canadians against tech giants, who will?" an unfazed Rodriguez said, as per CBC News.

In October, Meta threatened to block Canadian users' ability to share news content after the Heritage Committee did not invite the company to a meeting that discussed the provisions of the bill.

Meta's relationship with the Canadian government soured in recent years, especially after CEO Mark Zuckerberg and former COO Sheryl Sandberg refused to attend a meeting initiated by Canada's House of Commons' privacy and ethics committee in 2019.

While Meta is apparently unpleased with the bill's passing, some news industry groups are celebrating Canada's latest move.

Danielle Coffey, president of the News Media Alliance industry group, said Canada's Parliament "should be applauded for standing up to Big Tech."

"We are encouraged by the increasing recognition of the need for legal action to ensure just compensation, both in Canada and abroad, and hope to see the United States follow suit," Coffey said.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) also hailed the act, saying it is "an important step towards recognizing the value of private broadcasters' news content and providing the necessary framework for fair negotiation between news organizations and online platforms."

On the other hand, Meta also has also found an ally in Google as the search engine giant also earlier expressed opposition to the bill.

In Google's testimony on C-18 delivered to the Canadian Senate Standing Committee on Transport & Communications early last month, Richard Gingras, Google's vice president for news, said the tech giant was "willing" to do more in helping Canadian news publishers but not in the way Bill C-18 demands.

"Unfortunately, C-18 will not encourage the continuation or expansion of publisher licensing agreements," Gingras said, adding that the law "may jeopardize current products, services and investments that benefit the news ecosystem and all Canadians."