Seen, read, verified | Will Facebook access be suspended in Canada?

The headlines were enough to raise some concern… “Meta Doesn’t Rule Out Facebook Shutdown in Canada” was seen in circulation this week. Is it time to consider a world without its 573 friends?

Posted at 06:00

Judith Lachapelle

Judith Lachapelle
The press

(No, but… ) Q. What? Meta could scrap Facebook in Canada?

Not exactly. The full title could have been “Meta Doesn’t Rule Out Facebook Suspending Access to Content Produced by News Media in Canada If Bill C-18 Is Passed”. Potential lockout threatens Canadian media (owned by Meta) Facebook pages and news article sharing.

V. Oh! So access to our Facebook accounts is not under threat?

Not at all. It’s not like in Russia, where a court banned all access to Facebook and Instagram, accusing these networks of “extremism”… In Canada, the Meta company could decide to exclude journalistic content – ​​especially that of the Canadian media. from its Facebook platform.

Q. But why is Meta so focused on the media?

Because the digital giant is evaluating the scope of Bill C-18. The Online News Act – that’s the long name – aims for a “fair distribution of revenue between digital platforms and news media”. If passed, digital platforms (particularly Facebook and Google) would have to share tens of millions of dollars with Canadian media outlets, whose advertising revenue has traditionally been the main source of funding.

Q. Facebook has already announced an $8 million investment over three years in journalism in Canada. Is there already a form of income “sharing”?

It all depends on the meaning we give to the word ‘share’… The big question is how much advertising revenue Facebook has in Canada. Canadian Heritage Secretary Pablo Rodriguez estimates that Facebook and Google, the two platforms that account for 80% of advertising revenue, have raised between $150 million and $200 million in Canada. “Between the investment of 8 million over three years and the income of 200 million per year… there is a large margin”, emphasizes Professor Jean-Hugues Roy, from the School of Media of UQAM.

In his own research last year, Jean-Hugues Roy measured the advertising revenue that Facebook and Google earned in 2020 from journalistic content from Canadian media. His assessment? About 280 million dollars.

This week, Meta’s representative in Canada, Rachel Curran, said her company had “several concerns” about the passing of this law. Preventing the spread on Facebook of journalistic content would therefore be one way to avoid it.

Q. How likely is it that Facebook will take such action?

Hard to say. Minister Rodriguez’s bill is inspired by a bill passed by Australia in 2021. When Canberra’s parliament announced its intention to force digital giants to share their revenues with the national media, Facebook responded by preventing the distribution of journalistic content. A Facebook subscriber in Australia was no longer able to access or share journalistic content, whether from an Australian or foreign media outlet. And sharing on Facebook of content produced by Australian media was blocked all over the world. The ban lasted for a few days, before it was lifted when Facebook received assurances from Canberra that the company could negotiate these media-sharing deals, not enforce them. This provision is already included in the Canadian bill.


PHOTO ARCHIVE REUTERS

As of February 2021, there was no content on the Australian media’s ABC News page.

On Tuesday, during a parliamentary meeting in Ottawa to which Meta’s representative was invited, an MP asked Rachel Curran if her company ruled out blocking the news media as it did in Australia last year. “We are looking at all options based on our assessment of the bill,” Ms Schouten said.me currant.

Q. Has the possibility of the media in Canada being disconnected from Facebook shocked Secretary Rodriguez?

Obviously, no. “I, the threat, it does not make me tremble,” he said on Wednesday, recalling what happened in Australia. “They withdrew and the Australian people didn’t like it very much and I think the Canadian people don’t like it very much either. †

Conservative MP Luc Berthold, former editor of the regional weekly Mail Frontenacwas also not “well” impressed by M.me currant. “It shows the need to pass the bill. I think we need to make sure Facebook respects the rules like everyone else. †

V. Fine. But it’s not just journalistic content on Facebook. There are plenty of other interesting things.

Of course, of course… In his work, Jean-Hugues Roy described what a Facebook feed would look like without journalistic content. “We would have viral content, celebrity news, horoscopes, religious content and misinformation. “To each their own, what.

With the Canadian press

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