Meta to test limiting some news access on Facebook, Instagram in Canada

June 2, 2023 - 7:15 PM
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The logo of Meta Platforms' business group is seen in Brussels, Belgium December 6, 2022. (Reuters/Yves Herman/File Photo)

Meta Platforms Inc 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 the 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 Inc 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.

Reporting by Rahat Sandhu and Mrinmay Dey in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Janane Venkatraman