Meta to restrict Facebook and Instagram access in Canada

Facebook and Instagram owner Meta says it will restrict news access to users in Canada.

It comes after a controversial online news bill was passed by the Canadian parliament. It would force big sites to compensate publishers for content posted on their platform.

Both Meta and Google say they have been testing limiting news to Canadians, reports the BBC. A similar law in 2021 saw Australians banned from sharing or viewing news on Facebook.

Canada’s Online News Act requires web companies such as Meta and Google to negotiate commercial agreements with news organisations. Meta has called the law “fundamentally flawed legislation that ignores the realities of how our platforms work”.

“A legislative framework that compels us to pay for links or content that we do not post, and which are not the reason the vast majority of people use our platforms, is neither sustainable nor workable,” a Meta spokesperson said.

Google, meanwhile, called the new law “unworkable” in its current form. Although it said it would engage with the Canadian government to find a solution.

The federal government says the online news bill is necessary “to enhance fairness in the Canadian digital news market” and to allow struggling news organisations to “secure fair compensation” for news and links shared on the platforms.

An analysis from the independent budget watchdog says news businesses could receive about C$329m ($250m; £196m) per year from digital platforms.

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Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said he had met both Google and Facebook this week but the government would move forward with the bill’s implementation.

He said: “If the government can’t stand up for Canadians against tech giants, who will?”

The Online News Act is expected to come into force in six months.

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