Major search and social platforms are playing hardball in response to Canada’s Online News Act.
In a show of force, Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, locked Canadian users out of news content on Instagram.
The controversial legislation aims to force tech companies like Google and Facebook to provide fair compensation to news publishers for using their content.
Google and Meta claim the law is unworkable and amounts to an “internet link tax.”
Government Of Canada Hoped For Compromise
The Canadian government likely hoped the threat of regulation would bring tech companies to the bargaining table.
However, Meta is calling the government’s bluff by blocking access to news rather than complying with laws it views as unfair.
Google also plans to remove news links, stories, and more for Canadians from Search, Google News, and Discover.
For news publishers struggling in the digital era, losing traffic and visibility from these dominant platforms could be harmful.
The Canadian government argues the law is necessary to support independent journalism. In a statement, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez called Meta’s actions “unreasonable” and “irresponsible.”
While discussions are ongoing with Google, Rodriguez suspended all government advertising on Facebook and Instagram.
Supporting Journalism Or Internet Tax?
There are reasonable arguments on both sides. News publishers deserve support and fair compensation for the value they provide to platforms. However, regulating internet links and snippets takes a lot of work to implement and enforce.
For SEO and content pros, this inter-industry conflict highlights the power dynamics in today’s attention economy.
News publishers have little choice but to appear on major social platforms, even as companies like Facebook change algorithms and policies with little notice.
This situation highlights the need to diversify revenue and distribution to reduce reliance on any single company.
While traffic and subscriptions from Google and social media remain essential, publishers would benefit from strengthening direct relationships with readers and exploring alternative business models.
The Online News Act is Canada’s attempt to give news media more leverage, but tech companies seem ready to hold their ground.
The coming months will prove crucial as Canada works to finalize and enforce regulations that don’t prompt an exit of news links from search and social media.
There are no easy answers to balancing support for journalism with an open internet. But for Canadians, the possibility of losing access to news on the web’s most prominent platforms highlights how much influence they’ve ceded to Meta and Google.
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