Canadians Push Back On Google, Facebook Domestic News Blockades

A tug-of-war between technology companies, the Canadian government, and Canadian news outlets that own content sourced by Google, Facebook and other digital platforms continues to heat up following the passage of the country's Online News Act.

Bill C-18, which passed in June 2023, was meant to ensure fair revenue-sharing between digital platforms and news outlets. The passage of the bill prompted Google, for example, to remove links to Canadian news in its Search, News and Discover products in Canada.

Research released Monday by the Angus Reid Institute, a nonprofit public opinion research foundation, found Canadians align with the concept of Big Tech paying a fair share, but many are concerned about the consequences of the government's practices and proposals, including the Online News Act, which seeks to force Meta's Facebook, Alphabet's Google, and others to spend millions to license and distribute Canadian content.

Google and Facebook have already paid Australian media companies around $200 million in 2022, based on new regulation that helped that country's local news industry, the Financial Times reported.

Some 63% of Canadians are concerned about losing access to Canadian news on Facebook and Google, and 48% of Canadians want the federal government to “back down” in its battle with Big Tech. One-quarter say Ottawa should stand firm, and 25% are unsure of the best path forward.

For Canadians, the loss of Google and Facebook as news vehicles would be considerable.

Asked what news source they are most likely to go to first if they had to choose one or two, 32% said national Canadian news sites, 28% said Facebook, and 23% said Google News.

Only about 15% of Canadians say they currently pay for an online news subscription to a Canadian site. Three-quarters of past Conservative voters  would reverse course on Bill C-18, the Online News Act, if given the chance. Just one in three, 32% past Liberal, and 34% of voters from the New Democratic Party (NDP) would take this action.

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