The impacts of Canada’s Bill C-18, more commonly known as the Online News Act, have continued to have detrimental effects on all sectors of journalism over the past few months since it received royal assent at the end of May.
Now, Canadian journalists and many who work in public relations are pushing for a set day of online protest where people will refrain from using any Meta platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Threads.
The date of the online protest, which has been dubbed ‘#DayWithoutMeta’, will be Friday, September 15th because the day also correlates to International Democracy Day.
This day was chosen to remind Meta that a true and healthy democracy requires free and easy access to news and online media without billionaire capitalists’ censorship.
The Online News Act was essentially put in place to allow for Canadian news sources and their journalists to be paid a fair amount of money for posting news to “intermediary’s” websites such as Meta’s Facebook and Google.
These are the only two platforms impacted because both generate over $1 billion a year in revenue.
Both Meta and Google pushed back against the legislation from the get-go, saying that the news sources benefitted from being able to use their platforms and they shouldn’t have to compensate them for published articles.
All along, the two tech giants have been threatening to block Canadians from seeing any posts made from news sources, and now the threat has become reality.
“In order to comply with the Online News Act, we have begun the process of ending news availability in Canada,” wrote Meta in an August 1st update to their reaction to the online news act.
“These changes start today, and will be implemented for all people accessing Facebook and Instagram in Canada over the course of the next few weeks.”
As of this publication, Google hasn’t censored Canadian news, but they have said that they might in the coming months.
“When the time comes to draw the line and ask them to pay their fair share, Meta and Google resort to bullying tactics showing Canadians their true colours: if they don’t like the rules, they won’t follow them—even if those rules are in place to protect good quality journalism and Canadians,” said Randall Garrison, MP for the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke electoral district.
“It’s ironic to see these ultra-rich web giants act so fast to block reliable news information from Canadians when they don’t get their way, and yet are not as eager to stop the festering hate speech on their platforms.”
“While these web giants see their wealth rise by the billions, Canadians who play by the rules still can’t get ahead. Enough with the bullying. Enough with the free passes to multibillionaires who think they should have their way instead of following rules like the rest of us,” Garrison told Victoria Buzz.
What the government is trying to impose upon Meta is a $62 million annual fee to be distributed to the publishers of online news, while Google would have to pay $172 million. Both of these companies made billions of dollars in profits last year and will continue to do so.
Currently, Meta refuses to sit at the negotiating table with the Canadian government; however, Google remains in talks to find a reasonable solution.