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Why Canada stopped advertising with Facebook, Instagram

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (file photo)

‘Rodriguez estimates that Canada’s decision to pull all advertising on Meta’s platform will cost the tech giant C$10m ($7.54m; £5.93m) in business’

Canada’s federal government has pulled all its advertising from Facebook and Instagram because of unfavourable business relationship.

This follows parent company Meta’s move to restrict news content for Canadians after parliament passed a law that will force tech firms to pay media for news.

Canadian officials said on Wednesday that they stood by the law and would not be “intimidated” by Meta.

According to BBC, they said they had been in contact with other countries who plan to pass similar laws.

Google has also announced plans to block Canadian news in the country in response to the Online News Act – also known as Bill C-18 – when it takes effect in about six months.

But Canadian officials said they are hopeful they could successfully negotiate a deal with Google’s parent company, Alphabet, that would prevent the block from going ahead.

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“Google’s concerns can be met by what we plan to do in the (law’s) regulations,” said Minister of Heritage Pablo Rodriguez at a news conference on Wednesday.

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On the other hand, Mr Rodriguez told BBC that Meta has not been engaging with the government in the same way on a path forward.

“Meta are not talking to us,” he said, adding their decision to block news for Canadians is “unreasonable and irresponsible”.

Rodriguez estimates that Canada’s decision to pull all advertising on Meta’s platform will cost the tech giant C$10m ($7.54m; £5.93m) in business.

He did not say whether the advertising pull would apply to Meta’s new platform, Threads, which is scheduled to debut on Thursday as a rival to Twitter.

But Rodriguez said Canada’s move in theory would apply to all platforms under the parent company.

The loss of government advertising is a drop in the bucket for Meta, whose annual revenue in 2022 was over $116bn.

But Rodriguez said that Canada was determined to send a message that it would not be intimidated.

He added he hoped that it would inspire others, including Canadian companies, to do the same.

Media firms, Quebecor and Cogeco, both based in the province of Quebec, said that they would also be pulling advertisements from Meta.

In a statement to the BBC, Meta said that Bill C-18 “is flawed legislation that ignores the realities of how our platforms work”.

“Publishers actively choose to post on Facebook and Instagram because it benefits them to do so,” the company said.

The federal government says the bill is necessary to allow struggling news organisations to “secure fair compensation” for news and links shared on the tech platforms.

A similar law to Bill C-18 was passed in Australia in 2021 but it was tweaked after Meta briefly blocked users in the country from sharing or viewing news on its platform.

The blackout ended when the amendments were made, and Google and Meta have since negotiated more than 30 deals with Australian media companies.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he believes Canada has become a global test case for laws like Bill C-18.

“This is what they want to do, make an example of us,” said Mr Trudeau of tech giants like Meta.

“Facebook decided that Canada is a small enough country that they could reject our asks,” he said.

“They made the wrong choice by deciding to attack Canada.”

Rodriguez said Canada has been discussing its law with other countries looking to pass similar legislation, like the UK, Indonesia and Brazil.

Canada has also seen support from some U.S. senators and pundits.

An opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times by columnist Brian Merchant on Wednesday said, “Canada must absolutely not give in to the tech giants’ tantrum”.

US Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is leading the push for a similar bill in Washington DC, has also spoken up in support of Canada’s law.

Meta has already begun restricting access to news to a small percentage of Canadians in tests and said it plans to implement a full blackout in the coming weeks.

On Instagram, some users have reported seeing a message that reads: “In response to Canadian government legislation, news content can’t be viewed in Canada,” when trying to view news content.

.Culled from BBC

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