Meta has threatened to shut down news content in Canada following a new law proposed by the Canadian government. The warning comes ahead of Bill C-18, which would require the tech giant to share revenue with local news organizations.

The parent company of Facebook and Instagram would be required to share revenue with local news organizations under Bill C-18, modeled after Australia’s controversial Media Bargaining Code passed in 2021.

The law states that digital platforms have a “negotiating imbalance” with news organizations and must enter into agreements that would then be evaluated by a regulatory body, according to the Independent.

What is Canada asking of tech giants like Facebook?

“All we ask of tech giants like Facebook is to negotiate fair deals with news agencies when they profit from their work,” Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said.

However, Meta says it was “surprised not to receive an invitation to participate” in discussions about the law and claims it “misrepresents the relationship between platforms and news publishers”.

Marc Dinsdale, head of media partnerships for Meta Canada, wrote in a blog post: “The framework of the current legislation assumes that Meta is unfairly benefiting from its relationship with publishers, when in fact the opposite is true. Meta does not scrape content or links to news content. Posts with links to news articles make up less than 3% of what people see in their Facebook feed, and Canadians tell us they want to see less news and political content.”

The battle between the Canadian government and the Meta

Dinsdale says publishers and other businesses voluntarily post to Meta platforms, which “in turn allows them to sell more subscriptions and advertising.” Currently, Meta and Google, which this law also affects, as well as Amazon, together command more than 50% of all advertising dollars in 2022.

The battle between the Canadian government and Meta is similar to the one it had with the Australian government. Australian publishers were banned from sharing or publishing content on their Facebook pages, while international news organizations could publish news as normal, but that news was not visible to users in Australia.

In the end, a consensus was reached between the Australian government and Meta that allowed Facebook and Google not to be subject to the code, in exchange for them entering into agreements with several Australian publications.

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