War of words take centre stage
Canadian news may soon disappear from Google, Instagram and Meta-owned Facebook. Canadians who rely on these popular social media networks may have to look elsewhere to find local journalism if the two tech giants make good on a threat to block links from news outlets in Canada.
How will you get Canadian news then? That’s a question many Canadians may be asking after tech companies Google and Meta, which owns the social media giants vowed to remove links to Canadian journalism over a new government regulation.
It’s in retaliation for the Online News Act, also known as Bill C-18, that will make them strike agreements with media outlets for “fair compensation” when their news content is shared on the tech companies’ platforms.
Not everyone agrees this is the best way to help an industry that has seen its advertising revenue decline. But at the centre of the battle over Bill C-18 is the average news consumer, who, like many Canadians, relies on Google and Facebook to find journalism that matters to them.
Google, in a statement Thursday, said it amounts to a “link tax,” while Meta insisted Canadian news organizations are already benefiting from “free marketing” worth more than $230 million in the form of clicks from links visible on Facebook feeds.
Paul Deegan, president and CEO of News Media Canada, an advocacy association representing news outlets, acknowledges Google and Facebook “have been good partners” and their platforms drive traffic to news websites. “We just want to be able to negotiate fairly, on a commercial basis, for the value of our content,”
But Alfred Hermida, a journalism professor at the University of British Columbia, believes C-18 is a “flawed piece of legislation” that doesn’t address greater issues in the news industry, such as the concentration of private media ownership.