The Canadian government has decided to stop running advertisements on the Facebook and Instagram platforms in reaction to Meta‘s temporary test that prevented access to news content. Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez announced the action at a news conference, calling Meta’s behavior “unreasonable” and “irresponsible.”
This development is part of a larger controversy that started when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s government presented a Bill requiring technology companies to pay publishers for online content use. Meta had promised to filter out Canadian news information on its platforms to comply with Canada’s recently established Online News Act.
Rodriguez emphasized that the decision to stop advertising on Facebook and Instagram was a direct result, expressing disappointment with Meta’s attitude. A spokesman for Meta criticized the Online News Act in a statement, emphasizing that they do not gather links to news information for display and that it is “flawed legislation” that ignores the operational realities of their platforms.
We have decided to take the necessary step of suspending all Government of Canada advertising to Facebook.
We cannot continue paying advertising dollars to Meta while they refuse to pay their fair share to Canadian news organizations.
— Pablo Rodriguez (@pablorodriguez) July 5, 2023
The representative added that news content is posted on Facebook and Instagram at the publishers’ discretion. As changes to the law’s core provisions have proven difficult through the regulatory process, Meta plans to abide by the law by ceasing news availability in Canada in the upcoming weeks.
In 2021–2022, Canada spent over 11.4 million Canadian dollars (about £6.8 million) on Facebook and Instagram advertisements, according to the government’s annual spending report. When the Bill takes effect in six months, Google has also committed to censoring Canadian news content and Meta.
In mentioning ongoing talks with Google, Minister Rodriguez expressed confidence that the company’s concerns would be resolved by the upcoming regulations that would go along with the Bill’s adoption. The Canadian government seeks to address these issues and guarantee fair treatment of news sources and technological platforms.