Facebook doesn’t want to share

Your grumpiest relative may have to start emailing you with their takes on the news rather than just ranting on Facebook this summer.

What happened: Meta announced that it wouldn’t let Canadians share news stories on Facebook and Instagram if bill C-18, the federal government’s proposed online news law, passes without amendments.

Why it’s happening: C-18 is designed to make tech companies like Meta and Google pay news outlets for the right to share their articles online—a way of helping news media claw back some of the ad money they’ve lost to tech platforms in recent years. Big Tech doesn’t love that idea.

  • Meta says news articles make up less than 3% of what Canadian Facebook users see in their news feeds, and that it’s not an important revenue source for them anyway.
  • Meta isn’t alone in preparing for a news blackout: Google has been testing a news-blocking tool on its search engine in preparation for C-18 but hasn’t decided whether to implement it.

Why it matters: It’s the biggest threat yet from the tech giants opposed to bill C-18, and there’s reason to think Meta will make good on it. As Australia prepared to implement a similar law in 2021, Facebook blocked news feeds and even some government sites until the legislation was amended.

Yes, but: The Australian law still basically worked. Meta ended up making deals with 30 media companies worth about AU$200 million. The government declared victory.

  • In Canada, Google and Facebook have already voluntarily made revenue-sharing deals with outlets like The Globe and Mail, though the details of these arrangements aren’t public.

What’s next: The bill is expected to pass by the summer, and Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez doesn’t seem too interested in negotiating. “Canadians won’t be intimidated,” he said.