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Meta may end Facebook, Instagram news content in Canada

By Lynn Doan | Bloomberg

Meta Platforms said it would end news content on Facebook and Instagram in Canada if lawmakers pass legislation to force social-networking platforms to pay media publishers to feature their work.

“We’ve taken the difficult decision that if this flawed legislation is passed, we will have to end the availability of news content on Facebook and Instagram in Canada,” Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, said in a statement on Monday.

SEE MORE: California bill to make Big Tech pay for news advances again

Clegg described Canada’s proposed Online News Act as “fundamentally flawed,” saying Canada would become the “first democracy to put a price on free links to web pages, which flies in the face of global norms.”

In California, legislators are pushing a bipartisan bill that would see Big Tech paying for news content.

Assembly Bill 886, the California Journalism Preservation Act by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, an Oakland Democrat, would make companies like Facebook and Google pay for the news articles that help drive its profits. The bill last week advanced out of a second legislative committee with bipartisan backing as industry critics ramp up opposition.

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Sponsored by the California News Publishers Association, to which the Southern California News Group and its peers at the Bay Area News Group belong, AB 886 would require internet platforms to use binding arbitration to determine the percentage of advertising revenue to compensate news organizations for their content. Australia and Canada have passed similar laws.

In Canada, the former UK deputy prime minister had been scheduled to speak about the bill at a committee of Canada’s House of Commons on Monday. But he canceled after the title of the session was changed to, “Tech Giants’ Current and Ongoing Use of Intimidation and Subversion Tactics to Evade Regulation in Canada and Across the World.”

Canada’s act, known as Bill C-18, was proposed to establish a “fair revenue sharing” system between digital platforms and news outlets and provide for collective bargaining by media in negotiating fees with companies like Meta. In introducing the legislation last year, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said he was seeking to address a “market imbalance” as an increasing number of Canadians turn to digital platforms for news.

Canada is certainly not the first country that Meta has warned on the prospect of pulling its content. The company had said last year that it would remove Facebook and Instagram from Europe altogether over European Union data regulations.

Bay Area News Group staff writer John Woolfolk contributed to this report.

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