The recent decision by Meta to block news links in Canada in response to the Online News Act has not deterred Canadians from using Facebook, according to a recent data analysis.
Facebook’s daily usage by Canadians has remained roughly the same since the platform’s parent company Meta made the decision to remove news links at the beginning of August.
Data provided to Reuters by Similarweb, a data analytics company that tracks traffic on various apps and websites found that there was no major drop in the amount of time spent on Meta’s platforms by Canadians.
In June, the Trudeau government implemented the Online News Act, which forces Meta and Google parent Alphabet to compensate Canadian news publishers for their content if users post it on their platforms.
Meta and Alphabet have said that the new regulations are not sustainable for their business models . As a result, Facebook and Instagram have decided to ban news sharing on their platforms altogether.
Facebook claims that news accounts for less than 3% of content shared on their platform and provides no economic value for them.
As Meta faces regulatory pressure from other key markets around the world, the company is aiming to have less news and other civic content on its platforms. The company says it plans to promote lighter subjects in feeds like entertainment and sports.
Facebook’s referrals to Canadian news links had already been in decline prior to the Online News Act. In July, the social media platform saw a decline of around 35% year-over-year and a drop of 74% since 2020, according to Similarweb.
As for users in the United States, news does remain among the most popular content on the platform according to Facebook’s transparency reports.
Their latest report revealed that news websites accounted for 13 of the top 20 domains viewed on Facebook in the United States and 18 of the top 20 individual links were to news articles.
Instagram, Meta’s second largest platform, has less of a news presence, as the platform does not offer the option to enable links in posts from individual users.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently accused Meta of brinkmanship for not allowing news on their platforms during a time when Canada was dealing with numerous wildfires across the country.
“It is so inconceivable that a company like Facebook is choosing to put corporate profits ahead of ensuring that local news organizations can get up-to-date information to Canadians and reach them,” said Trudeau to reporters in Prince Edward Island last week.
A spokesperson for Meta responded by saying that they had rolled out a “Safety Check” feature for people that would “allow people to let their friends and family know they were safe” in Yellowknife and other areas dealing with wildfires. The spokesperson also noted that the platform still provides users with access to content from government agencies and emergency services.
The specific details of how the platforms would be expected to compensate Canadian news publishers have yet to be ironed out; however the regulator responsible for implementing the online news law said that a framework would be ready by this fall with the goal to have mandatory bargaining between the tech giants and news organizations by 2025.