Meta is taking a hard line, threatening to block news articles on Facebook and Instagram in California and Canada if forced to pay publishers for use of their material. And it is now testing its ability to do so in Canada.
“As we have shared, content from news outlets, including news publishers and broadcasters, will not be available to people accessing Facebook and Instagram in Canada if Bill C-18, the Online News Act, is passed into law. “As we prepare to comply with the legislation, we are announcing today that we will begin tests on both platforms that will limit some users and publishers from viewing or sharing some news content in Canada.
Meta continues, “Randomized tests will help us build an effective product solution to end news availability in Canada as defined in Bill C-18. Throughout the testing period, which will run for several weeks, a small percentage of people in Canada who are enrolled in testing will be notified if they attempt to share news content.”
Meta is taking a similar line regarding The California Journalism Preservation Act (AB 886). “The bill was passed in the state Assembly by a vote of 46-6, and now heads to the Senate.
Earlier in the week, Meta tweeted that if the bill passes, “we will be forced to remove news from Facebook and Instagram rather than pay into a slush fund that primarily benefits big, out-of-state media companies under the guise of aiding California publishers.”
It continues, “The bill fails to recognize that publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves and that substantial consolidation in California’s local news industry came over 15 years ago, well before Facebook was widely used.”
Explaining the testing process in Canada, Meta writes, “Product tests will impact news outlets both within and outside of Canada. Meta is identifying news outlets on our platforms based on the current language of Bill C-18. As drafted, the legislation states that news outlets are in scope if they primarily report on, investigate or explain current issues or events of public interest.”
It continues, “News outlets will continue to have access to their accounts and Pages, and will be able to post news links and content; however, some content will not be viewable in Canada. Outlets will continue to have access to the Meta Business Suite and advertising tools.”
The statement adds, “Those enrolled in testing will have access to a review process if they believe they do not fall within the intended scope of the legislation.”
Meanwhile, the News/Media Alliance cheered news of the California Assembly's vote.
“Currently, creators of journalistic and creative content are not adequately compensated for the use of their work that takes a tremendous investment to produce,” the group said on Thursday.