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Meta will test blocking news for some Canadians ahead of new law

Meta will test blocking news content for some users in Canada in response to the country’s Online News Act, the company has announced. The test is expected to affect between one and five percent of the company’s users on Facebook and Instagram, according to ABC news, with affected users unable to view or share any news content on the platforms. Both Canadian and international news outlets will be affected.

The tests precede a permanent blockade if the Online News Act passes. The legislation, also known as Bill C-18, aims to force platforms such as Meta and Google to negotiate with Canadian news publishers to pay them for content, but Meta has said it prefers to completely block news content in the country rather than be forced to. to pay for it.

“If a big tech company… tells us, ‘If you don’t do this or that, I’ll pull the plug,’ then that’s a threat”

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez told Reuters that Meta’s tests were unacceptable. “If a big tech company tells us, ‘If you don’t do this or that, I’ll pull the plug,’ that’s a threat. I’ve never done anything because I was afraid of a threat,” Rodriguez said.

“All we’re asking Facebook to do is make fair deals with news outlets when they’re profiting from their work,” Rodriguez said in comments reported by Reuters in March. “This is part of a disappointing trend this week that tech giants would rather get news than pay their fair share.”

The company previously knew, as Facebook has publicly claimed that its approach in Canada will be different from that in Australia, CBC news Previously reported. “It is absolutely our intention not to make the same mistakes in Canada as we did in Australia,” Rachel Curran, Meta Canada’s head of public policy, told the heritage committee of the House of Commons of Canada last month.

“Some of the things that have been wrongly scored in Australia, we are working very hard to make sure we don’t do that this time,” Curran said, noting that Meta is working to clear pages from government agencies, emergency services and the community organizations from each potential bloc.

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