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Meta Starts Blocking Canadian News Sites In Response To Liberal Government’s Shakedown

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Recent regulatory changes in Canada have sparked a new digital warfront between tech giants and Canadian news outlets, with popular platforms like Instagram and Meta’s newly-launched app Threads increasingly restricting access to news content after a shakedown attempt from the Canadian government.

Instagram’s obstruction of Canadian news outlets came to light when social media managers in the country encountered a message stating, “People in Canada can’t see this content. In response to Canadian government legislation, news content can’t be viewed in Canada.”

The blockade is slowly rolling out and is yet to hit all news outlets in the country.

This unfolding digital clash stems from the recently passed Online News Act, designed to bolster the Canadian mainstream media. Instead of the failing outlets changing their business model, the Canadian government ordered Meta to just start handing over cash to the struggling outlets, simply for allowing users on Facebook or Instagram to link to news.

Canada’s Liberal government touted the law as a lifeline for the beleaguered journalism industry, which it argues has suffered from the supremacy of tech behemoths in the digital advertising arena.

Yet, the proposed legislation has been met with fierce resistance from tech giants like Meta and Google. Both companies have vowed to block Canadian news content as a form of retaliation, arguing that their platforms significantly bolster publishers’ traffic and revenue streams.

In anticipation of the Online News Act’s implementation, both companies have run tests restricting news content access for some Canadian users.

Google, for instance, filtered Canadian and international news for select Canadian users before the passage of Bill C-18, also known as the Online News Act. Similarly, Meta restricted the sharing and posting of news for some users in the country.

Historically, tech giants have demonstrated a willingness to pull their services in response to regulatory changes.

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