March 2, 2024

Meta Platforms on Thursday said it will begin tests on its social media websites Facebook and Instagram that will limit some users and publishers from viewing or sharing some news content in Canada.

The testing period will run for several weeks, the social media giant said, adding that a minor percentage of Canadian users enrolled in testing will be notified if they attempt to share news content.

The test comes in response to Canada’s proposed “Online News Act”. Introduced in April last year, the legislation would force platforms like Meta and Google parent Alphabet to negotiate commercial deals and pay Canadian news publishers for their content.

Meta had, in March, warned it would end the availability of news content for Canadians on its platforms if the proposed bill was passed in its current form.

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who introduced the bill last year, called the tests “unacceptable”.

“When a big tech company… tells us, ‘If you don’t do this or that, then I’m pulling the plug’ – that’s a threat. I’ve never done anything because I was afraid of a threat,” Rodriguez told Reuters.

Google rolled out similar tests earlier this year blocking news content for some Canadian users as a test run for a potential response to the online news bill. 

© Thomson Reuters 2023


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