Facebook and Instagram users in Canada will be prevented from viewing Canadian news, parent-company Meta said Thursday, after Ottawa passed a bill requiring the digital giants to pay for such content. .
Google, another critic of the Online News Act, previously said it was considering a similar move.
The two Silicon Valley giants pushed against the bill, which aims to shore up a struggling Canadian news sector that has seen hundreds of publications shut down over the past decade.
“Exciting news! (No pun intended),” tweeted Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez after the bill passed the final hurdle in the Senate to become law.
He said Meta’s decision to block news content was regrettable, but promised to “stand up for Canadians against the tech giants.”
His office said officials met with Facebook and Google this week and are looking forward to further discussions about the new law.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month criticized Meta for a test run to block Canadian news content for some users, saying the company was “very irresponsible and out of touch ” for refusing to pay journalists for their work.
Opposition to the bill, he said, is “defective (and) dangerous to our democracy, to our economy.”
Google in February also temporarily limited access to news for Canadian users of its popular search engine.
In a statement on Thursday, Meta said it “confirms that the availability of news will end on Facebook and Instagram for all users of Canada.”
“Changes affecting news content do not affect Meta’s products and services in Canada,” it added.
Google spokeswoman Jenn Crider said it is “doing everything we can to avoid an outcome that no one wants” and intends to work with the government “on a path forward.”
The company proposed changes to the bill, but Crider said Thursday: “So far, none of our concerns have been addressed.”
The new law requires digital giants to make fair commercial deals with Canadian outlets for news and information shared on their platforms, or face arbitration.
It established Australia’s New Media Bargaining Code, a world first, which aims to make Google and Meta pay for news content on their platforms.
Australia, too, accused the two companies, which dominate online advertising, of siphoning money from traditional news organizations while using their content for free.
Big tech companies fiercely opposed the Australian law at first, fearing it would threaten their business models, but the amendments were quickly passed by lawmakers.