A Canadian company that helps thousands of YouTubers around the world expand their reach is worried that Bill C-11 will meddle with social media algorithms and drive creators away from Canada.
AIR Creators Ecosystem works with creators globally, including the popular Canadian children’s channel HZHtube Kids Fun.
The company estimates that there are 28,400 YouTubers participating in Canada’s creator economy this year – a 9% growth from 2021.
“Today, Canada’s creative economy supports more than 34K jobs on YouTube alone. The creator is already becoming a profession of the future, especially among Gen-Z. And like in any other industry, there are plenty of opportunities and challenges to consider,” company spokesperson Nina Peleshenko told True North.
Those jobs could be put into jeopardy should Bill C-11 go into effect.
“The main challenge is obviously the potential interference in social media algorithms proposed by the current Bill C-11,” explained Peleshenko.
Bill C-11, which updates Canada’s Broadcasting Act, will subject digital content creators to regulation by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Under the law, social media giants like YouTube or TikTok will be required to promote loosely-defined “Canadian content” to users.
“Another challenge we see is the outflow of talents to other countries caused by the small market and fierce competition in crowded niches.”
Some Canadian YouTubers and other influencers have already pledged to leave Canada should Bill C-11 come into effect.
“My life and the life of other Canadian YouTubers just got turned upside down. Our government just passed Bill C-11 which gives them control over what Canadian citizens see on the internet,” said YouTuber and Twitch streamer Rick Kackis in June.
“Where do we go from here? No one knows, it’s simply terrifying. People in the states. Got any good deals on housing? Because apparently, I’ve got to move.”
Last year AIR held an event on how the internet regulation regime will impact Canadian creators.
“What essentially would happen is the government would tell YouTube that they have to prioritize “CanCon” over private individual channels or other businesses for that matter so they would have to give them preferential treatments in the algorithm based on what the CRTC decides the viewer wants,” explained panelist and CEO of Buffer Festival Scott Benzie.
In a recent testimony before the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodrigeuz confirmed that the government could issue orders to manipulate social media algorithms.
“The CRTC can’t mandate user specific algorithms. What we want is outcomes. It’s up to the platform to decide how they do that. They may decide they’ll touch their algorithms but that would be their own decision. They could have playlists, they could have filters,” claimed Rodriguez.
Both major companies like Google and even the United States government have recently entered the fight against C-11.
Google has launched a new advocacy campaign on YouTube to warn users about the harms of Bill C-11.
“In its current form, Bill C-11 would require YouTube to manipulate these systems, and surface content according to the CRTC’s priorities, rather than the interests of Canadian users,” wrote the company in an Oct. blog post.
“Put into practice, this means that when viewers come to the YouTube homepage, they’re served content that a Canadian Government regulator has prioritized, rather than content they are interested in.”