Tech giant Meta is prepared to block news on Facebook and Instagram if the Trudeau government passes Bill C-18.
C-18 would require social media platforms to pay Canadian media outlets for their content.
Head of public policy at Meta Canada Rachel Curran told The Canadian Press that they are ready to block news sources on their platform if the government moves forward with the bill.
Curran says that Meta will not remove content or pages that are not related to news and that most pages will still be accessible, such as those for governments and politicians.
“This is a business decision that we are forced to make,” said Curran. “We will remove news in a way that is careful, responsible and transparent.”
In a stand against Bill C-18, Meta says they are not able to follow the new regulations if they pass.
“We believe that news has a real social value,” said Curran. “The problem is that it doesn’t have much of an economic value to Meta. That’s the real concern with this legislation.”
“So if we are being asked to compensate news publishers for material that has no economic value to us, that’s where the problem is.”
Bill C-18 has drawn much controversy since it was first proposed in 2021.
Brett Caraway, an associate professor of information and technology, told True North that it’s senseless to ask tech giants like Facebook to pay when users hyperlink to Canadian journalism.
“I want to go in front of Parliament and ask, ‘Do you guys even know how the internet works?’” the University of Toronto professor said.
Caraway understands the concern parliamentarians may have about supporting journalism but said the bill is a terrible approach.
“[This] is terrifying to me. That’s not how you fix this problem.”
Google has also opposed the legislation but has not yet announced if they would block news content on their platform. In March, the platform announced they were running tests in order to understand how Bill C-18 would affect search results and concluded they were not in favour of the bill in its current form.
“Bill C-18 puts a price on free links,” wrote Vice President of Google Canada Sabrina Geremia. “When you put a price on linking to certain information, you no longer have a free and open web.”
Michael Geist, who serves as the research chair of Internet law at the University of Ottawa, said Canadians may soon see the consequences of Parliament’s bill.
“I could see them stopping the Google News service but continuing to index and link in general search,” Geist told True North.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 200,000 businesses, wrote a protest letter to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage against Bill C-18, saying it is undemocratic.