Facebook said it may pull news content from its platform in Canada in response to the Liberal government’s Bill C-18, which would force the company to share revenue with news publishers.
The post comes after the House of Commons heritage committee failed to invite Facebook to appear at its study of the legislation. The company confirmed to the National Post earlier in the week it hadn’t been invited.
It said in the blog post that it was “surprised not to receive an invitation to participate, particularly given public comments by lawmakers that this law is targeted at Facebook.”
Bill C-18 is aimed at both Facebook and Google, and would force them to reach commercial deals with publishers, under the threat of mandatory arbitration. The two companies could end up funding 30 per cent of the cost of producing news in Canada, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has estimated.
Google appeared at committee earlier this week, though Colin McKay, Google Canada’s head of public policy and government relations, said in an interview after the meeting the company had specifically asked to appear. It outlined a number of concerns with the legislation and is asking the government to make amendments.
This isn’t the first time Meta has said pulling news content from Canada was a potential response to the legislation. Rachel Curran, the public policy manager for Canada at Meta, told a parliamentary committee earlier this year doing so wasn’t off the table.
The company did exactly that in Australia last year when that country passed legislation similar to C-18, which Canada’s bill is modeled after.
Meta changed course on its move and restored news content to Facebook a week later.
On Friday, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez accused Meta of continuing “to pull from their playbook used in Australia.”
“At the end of the day, we want to make sure Canada has a free and independent press, it’s fundamental to our democracy. Canadians need to have access to accurate and reliable news. All we’re asking the tech giants like Facebook to do is negotiate fair deals with news outlets when they profit from their work,” he said in an emailed statement.
Meta said in its blog post Friday that it has “repeatedly shared with the government that news content is not a draw for our users and is not a significant source of revenue for our company.”