Sat, 23 Sep 2023

MENLO PARK, California: Facebook parent Meta has said that under a trial that could last through the end of June, some Canadian users will be temporarily blocked from accessing news content on Facebook and Instagram.

Following a similar action taken by Google earlier this year, the move comes as a response to a proposed bill, Bill C-18 or the Online News Act, which will require tech giants to pay publishers for using their content online.

If the bill passes, it could permanently block news content on Facebook and Instagram in Canada, Meta stressed.

"Meta's move was disappointing, but Canadians will not be intimidated by these tactics," said Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez.

Rachel Curran, head of public policy for Meta Canada, said the announced block will affect one to 5 percent of the company's 24 million users in Canada.

Randomly selected Canadian users of Instagram and Facebook will not be able to see or share news content, and possibly news links to articles, reels and stories that disappear after 24 hours.

Content from international news agencies, including the New York Times and the BBC, could also be randomly blocked.

Facebook is selecting random news publishers who will be notified that some users in Canada will not be able to see or share their news content throughout the test, but users will still be able to access their accounts, pages, businesses suites and advertising, Meta said.

Meanwhile, the Canadian bill has been praised by legacy media and broadcasters, saying that it will help "enhance fairness" in the digital news marketplace and help bring in more revenues to their newsrooms.

Tech giants, including Meta and Google, have been blamed for disrupting and dominating the advertising industry, causing serious harm to established news organizations.

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