June 24 (CNBC) – Meta has announced it would shut down access to news on Facebook and Instagram in Canada after the country’s federal government passed the Online News Act, or Bill C-18, a law mandating that tech companies pay content fees to domestic media outlets.
“We have repeatedly shared that in order to comply with Bill C-18, passed today in Parliament, content from news outlets, including news publishers and broadcasters, will no longer be available to people accessing our platforms in Canada,” Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said in a statement Thursday.
The company added that it is currently conducting several weeks of product tests to “end news availability in Canada” following Parliament’s decision.
The decision follows a similar law passed last year in Australia, mandating that digital platforms such as Facebook and Google pay domestic media outlets when linking to their content in search or feeds. In response, Meta took a similar path to its current approach in Canada, blocking users from seeing or sharing news content on Facebook. It also reportedly blocked some pages for hospitals and emergency services.
Within a week, Meta relented and came to a deal with the Australian government, via amendments to the law allowing tech companies two months to negotiate with media outlets.
Earlier this month, California lawmakers advanced a bipartisan bill that would require digital platforms to pay news outlets for the content they host, the first U.S. state to consider such a proposal. If the legislation is approved by the state Senate and passed into law, it would require online platforms with at least 50 million monthly active U.S. users, a billion worldwide active users or U.S. net annual sales or market cap over $550 billion to pay eligible media outlets for hosting their content.
Meta said it would remove news from Facebook and Instagram if the law passed in California, similar to its current strategy in Canada.
“While these product tests are temporary, we intend to end the availability of news content in Canada permanently following the passage of Bill C-18,” Meta wrote in the statement.