On Wednesday, the Canadian government announced that it will cease all ad spending -- about $7.5 million per year -- on Facebook and Instagram. The decision comes after Meta and Google blocked Canadian news in opposition to a law requiring technology platforms to compensate publishers for linking to their content.
“We have decided to take the necessary step of suspending all Government of Canada advertising to Facebook,” tweeted Canada's Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez. “We cannot continue paying advertising dollars to Meta while they refuse to pay their fair share to Canadian news organizations.”
The Online News Act, or Bill C-18, was passed into law last month. The government is currently in the process of finalizing the bill, which would require tech platforms to share a portion of ad revenue before the law goes into effect at the end of this year.
According to the bill, Google and Meta currently earn 80% of all digital advertising revenue in Canada -- “ad dollars that used to be spent on Canadian news outlets, who report on local and regional news,” noted Rodriguez.
Despite these tech giants’ decision to stop news access on their platforms, the Canadian government still remains confident that it will be able to continue negotiating. “We believe we have a path forward and we’re willing to continue talking with the platforms,” Rodriguez added.
However, in an interview on Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is not backing down. “This is not just a dispute over advertising, it's a dispute over democracy,” he stated. “This goes to the core of a free and informed society that is able to take responsible decisions in a democracy.”
Meta has not yet commented on the news, though it has previously mentioned that news in Canada holds little to no economic value for the company, believing that news organizations benefit from the publicity they receive on Facebook and Instagram.
Two major Canadian media firms, Quebecor and Cogeco Communications, have also announced that they and their subsidiaries are suspending advertising on Meta’s platforms.