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Meta Tests News Post Limits in Canada over Bill C-18

Meta initiates a test policy restricting news content sharing for some Facebook and Instagram users in Canada, responding to the proposed Online Sharing Act, Bill C-18.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has begun testing a policy that could result in reduced news content sharing for some Facebook and Instagram users in Canada. This action is a counter to the proposed Online Sharing Act (Bill C-18) by the country's government, a piece of legislation that Meta has fundamentally contested.

Meta voiced its objections in a recent blog post, stating that the act overlooks how their platforms operate, user preferences, and the value provided to news publishers. The law, inspired by similar Australian regulations, intends to compel digital platforms such as Facebook to engage in revenue-sharing collaborations with local news entities. This action responds to Facebook and Google's control over 80% of the online advertising market revenue.

In a show of opposition, Meta had previously hinted at possibly restricting news content sharing in Canada. This announcement came after Meta was excluded from a government panel discussion regarding the legislation. Google has also temporarily hindered some Canadian users from viewing news content, prompting a robust response from Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who termed the tests "unacceptable."

Despite early objections, Facebook, Google, and others eventually consented to the Australian law and now compensate publishers for posting news links and snippets. However, before this agreement, Facebook had temporarily blocked Australian users from sharing news links, a move later reversed after the government amended the law to address Facebook's concerns.

Though this new testing phase will impact only a small number of users for a limited time, Meta has implied it might permanently block news sharing for all users in Canada, presumably to coerce the government and publishers into negotiations. Meta stated its firm stance, declaring, "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."