(CMR) Google and Meta, parent company to Facebook, will block links to Canadian news for people in Canada in response to a new law that requires technology companies to compensate publishers for linking articles.
The Online News Act, which goes into effect at the end of 2023, compels technology companies to compensate publishers when linking to news content. This is part of an effort to allow news publishers to earn after the internet revolution upended traditional revenue streams such as advertising.
The Canadian Government passed the Online News Act with the hope that it “ensures fair revenue sharing between digital platforms and news outlets.”
According to Pablo Rodriguez, the minister of Canadian heritage, between 2008 and 2021, 450 Canadian news outlets have closed.
The Government said, “Digital platforms have come to play an integral role in Canada’s news ecosystem, shifting the way Canadians access news content that is vital to democracy. These platforms can play an important role in supporting the production of trusted news and information as well.”
Australia passed a similar measure in 2021, requiring technology giants Facebook and Google to pay for news content shared on their platforms. More countries are now looking to follow as news outlets continue to lay off journalists in record numbers.
Google said the new laws passed by Canada amount to a “link tax,” while Meta insisted Canadian news organizations are benefiting from free marketing worth more than $230 million.
“The truth is, our users don’t come to us for news. They come to share the ups and downs of life, the things that make them happy and sad, that interest them and entertain them. Links to news stories are a tiny proportion of that – less than three percent of the content they see in their Facebook Feed,” a statement from Meta noted.
It continued, “But news publishers do find our services valuable. We estimate that Facebook Feed sent registered news publishers in Canada more than 1.9 billion clicks in the 12 months to April 2022. This amounts to free marketing we estimate is worth more than $230 million.”