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Canada's Media Sector Unites Against Meta's News Access Ban

Updated: Jan 3

[Edited] Despite Meta's decision to block news links in Canada, data from independent tracking firms indicates that there has been almost no change in Canadians' usage of Facebook.

Credits: REUTERS

This comes as Meta faces criticism from the Canadian government over the move.

According to Similarweb, a digital analytics company, daily active users of Facebook and time spent on the app in Canada have remained relatively unchanged since Meta started blocking news links at the beginning of August., another analytics firm, also confirmed that their data showed no significant change in platform usage in Canada during August.

These early estimates seem to support Meta's argument that news holds little value for the company, as it continues to be embroiled in a standoff in Canada over a new law that requires internet giants to pay publishers for the news articles shared on their platforms.

Meta declined to comment on the estimates, but it is clear that both Meta and Google's parent company, Alphabet, have expressed their concerns about the law, stating that it is unworkable for their businesses. Meta has specifically mentioned that news articles make up less than 3% of the content on its Facebook feeds and have no economic value to the company.

In recent years, Meta has been trying to reduce the prevalence of news and civic content on its platforms, instead focusing on promoting lighter subjects such as fashion, entertainment, and sports. This shift has resulted in a significant decrease in news consumption via social media, as reported by the Reuters Institute and Pew Research Center.

Even before Meta's news ban in Canada, Facebook referrals to popular news sites in the country had already declined by about 35% year-over-year in July and approximately 74% since 2020, according to Similarweb.

However, Meta's transparency reports indicate that news remains popular content on Facebook, at least in the United States. In the first quarter, news websites accounted for 13 of the top 20 domains viewed on Facebook in the United States, and 18 of the top 20 individual links were news articles.

Meta's other social platform, Instagram, has less of a presence in the news environment as it does not allow links within individual user posts.

Meta ended news sharing in Canada at the beginning of August, while Google has announced plans to block news from search results in Canada once the law takes effect.

Canadian government officials have accused Meta of brinkmanship in removing news from its platforms at a time when there is a heightened need for information due to wildfires forcing people from their homes. However, negotiations over the rules are ongoing behind the scenes.

Specific rules regarding the implementation of the law are expected to be released by late December, after which the platforms will be expected to finalize deals with publishers.

Canada's Heritage Minister, Pascale St-Onge, has had discussions with both Facebook and Google since taking office in July, according to her office.

The Canadian regulator responsible for implementing the country's online news law has announced plans to establish a framework for negotiations between news organizations and internet giants this autumn, with the aim of initiating mandatory bargaining by early 2025.

  • Meta's decision to block news links in Canada has had almost no impact on Facebook usage in the country.

  • Data from independent tracking firms shows that daily active users and time spent on the app have remained unchanged.

  • Meta argues that news holds little value for the company and is facing criticism from the Canadian government over the move.


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