Online News: Facebook Again Threatens to Block Media Content

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Online news: Facebook again threatens to block media content

Meta previously threatened in April to block Canadian media content on Facebook if C-18 is passed.

Meta, parent company of social media giant Facebook, doesn&#x27 ;Don't budge: According to her, Bill C-18, currently before the House of Commons, misrepresents the relationship between platforms and news publishers. And if Ottawa doesn't go back to the drawing board, it is claimed, Facebook could block Canadian news content on its network.

Bill C-18, called the Online News Act, must force the big names in digital – Google, Facebook, etc. – to donate part of their income to the Canadian media whose content they use on their platform.

In a statement posted on Meta's website, Marc Dinsdale, head of media partnerships, said he regretted the Liberal government's failure to invite the company to testify in the hearings on C- 18.

Furthermore, Mr. Dinsdale considers the law to be ill-conceived, at least as far as Meta is concerned. Posts linking to news articles represent less than 3% of what people see in their Facebook News Feed, and Canadians tell us they want to see less news and political content, he says in its online statement.

We have repeatedly communicated to the government that news content does not appeal to our users and is not a significant source of revenue for our business.

In addition, Mr. Dinsdale believes that Facebook already helps the media, which, by publishing their content on the platform, can reach a wider audience. The company estimates that this help is equivalent to more than 1.9 billion clicks to media web pages, for the equivalent of $230 million in free marketing.

We are being asked to agree to a system that allows publishers to charge us for as much content as they want, at an indefinite price. No business can run like this, adds Mr. Dinsdale.

“If this bill is passed, resulting in unprecedented forms of financial liability globally for links or news content, we may be forced to reconsider allowing news content to be shared in Canada on Facebook. , as defined by the Online News Act.

— Mark Dinsdale, Head of Media Partnerships at Meta

This threat is not new: Meta previously hinted in April that Facebook could block news content if Bill C-18 passes.

Faced with this possibility, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pablo Rodriguez, replied: Me, the threat, it does not make me tremble well well.

When a bill Similar to social media and media was adopted in Australia, in the winter of 2021 Facebook effectively blocked local media content for just under a week.

The company finally backtracked after the Canberra government passed an amendment to one of the key points in the law's text. Thus, Facebook and Google, the two main companies targeted by the bill, are no longer subject to sanctions if they manage to conclude certain agreements with Australian media to pay for information.

In Canada, the public hearings on C-18 have notably enabled certain experts to affirm that the bill will not harm small media.

Last week, during further hearings on the bill, Minister Rodriguez hinted that he was open to the idea of ​​amending C-18, without giving further details. .

Pablo Rodriguez believes that the big names in digital gain an undeniable advantage when sharing media content on their platforms.

Dominant platforms are asked, in this case probably Google and Facebook, to negotiate fair agreements with news media, whether newspapers, radio, television…, reminded the Minister during his appearance on the show Midi Info, Monday, on ICI Première.

Right now, people are sharing journalistic work on Facebook, on Google, without receiving a penny; that is, the platforms take advantage of the presence of this journalistic content to attract people, get traffic, without having to pay a penny. And that traffic allows them to make money and sell more expensive advertising.

Mr. Rodriguez also found that Facebook, Google and others are trying to intimidate Canadians and the government. And that doesn't work, he blurted out.

The minister, however, agrees with one of Meta's points of view, namely that the media effectively take advantage of the visibility offered by the Facebook platform to reach more readers and listeners.

But the dominant platforms have a very clear advantage: the advertising market is about 10 billion dollars in Canada and two companies are fetching 80% of that amount. It's Facebook and Google, he said again.

The Minister will not, however, interfere in the negotiations to determine the amounts that the two giants should pay the media; each deal will be unique, he said, and Ottawa will have no say.

And why didn't Meta been invited to the C-18 hearings? Mr. Rodriguez replied that all members of the committee examining the bill (where the Liberals are in the minority, editor's note) could invite witnesses.

The Conservatives could have invited Facebook, au instead of spending their time repeating what Facebook and Google are saying, rather than defending the Canadian media, the minister also launched, in a pike towards his political adversaries.

You know, I'm not a difficult minister to reach, and neither is my team; [Meta] has my phone number. […] If they want to keep talking, we're here!

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