Facebook cautioned on Friday that it may restrict sharing of news content on its platform in Canada over concerns about legislation that would force digital platforms to pay news publishers.
The Online News Act, launched in April, set out rules to compel platforms like Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O) Google and Meta’s (META.O) Facebook to negotiate commercial deals and pay news publishers for their content, in a move equivalent to a ground-breaking law enacted in Australia in 2021.
This legislation is being discussed at a parliamentary committee, to which the U.S. social media company said it has not been invited to express its concerns.
Marc Dinsdale, head of media partnerships at Meta Canada, said in a blog post:
“We believe the Online News Act misrepresents the relationship between platforms and news publishers, and we call on the government to review its approach.”
“In the face of adverse legislation based on false assumptions that defy the logic of how Facebook operates, we believe it’s important to be transparent about the possibility that we may be forced to reconsider allowing news content sharing in Canada.”
Canada’s Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who proposed the bill, said in a statement on Friday that the government continued to hold “constructive conversations” with Facebook. Rodriguez said in an emailed statement:
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“All we’re asking the tech giants like Facebook to do is negotiate fair deals with news outlets when they profit from their work.”
The legislation suggests that digital platforms that have a “bargaining imbalance” with news businesses – gauged by metrics like a company’s global revenue – must reach fair deals that would then be reviewed by a regulator.
Dinsdale said news content was not a draw for Facebook users and did not fetch substantial revenue for the company.
When Australia, which has launched global efforts to limit the powers of tech firms, proposed legislation compelling them to pay local media for news content, Facebook removed all third-party content from Australian accounts for more than a week, while Google threatened to close its Australian search engine.
Both finally clinched deals with Australian media companies after a chain of amendments to the legislation were proposed.