Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has initiated the process of ending news availability in Canada, after the Canadian government passed the Online News Act (Bill C-18).

Canada’s Bill C-18, the Online News Act, became law in June, introducing a significant change to the digital media landscape in the country. Bill C-18 puts a price on links to news content, a so-called “link tax.”

The law requires tech companies to compensate media organizations if they wish to host Canadian news content on their platforms.

Two tech giants, Google and Meta, have refused to comply with this new framework, opting instead to block Canadian news from their platforms.

“Today we’ve begun the process of ending news availability in Canada. Changes will roll out over a few weeks,” said Meta spokesperson Andy Stone on Tuesday.

“As we’ve always said, the law is based on a fundamentally flawed premise. And, regrettably, the only way we can reasonably comply is to end news availability in Canada,” he added.

In a detailed press release by Meta, the company outlined how these changes will impact Canadian news outlets, international news outlets, and their communities, both within and outside Canada.

Canadian news outlets and publishers will no longer be able to share their news links and content with the Canadian audience. The same applies to international news outlets; while they will continue to post their news links and content, the content will not be visible to people in Canada.

The changes mean that people in Canada will no longer be able to view or share news content on Facebook and Instagram. The availability of Meta’s services will remain unchanged for users outside of Canada.

The move has been defended as a business decision to comply with the Online News Act.

Collaborating with Québec digital literacy expert Nellie Brière, Meta has provided a guide for Canadians on how to access local news and information online, including directly accessing news publishers’ websites, downloading mobile news apps, and subscribing to their preferred publishers.

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