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Minister slams Facebook over ‘threat’ to ban news content in Canada

On Wednesday, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez slammed Facebook parent Meta for failing to take a platform-wide ban on viewing and sharing news in Canada off the table – reports The national post.

Earlier this month, the Liberal government announced the Online News Act, known as Bill C-18, to force online giants like social media apps to pay media outlets for news and Canadian journalists for sharing links to stories.

Bill C-18 is modeled after a similar legislature introduced in Australia last year in protest against which Facebook imposed a ban on viewing and sharing posts on its platform in Australia.

Rodriguez’s comments came after a Meta Canada executive told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that the company had not ruled out an equivalent response in Canada to Bill C-18.

“They made the same threat in Australia and ultimately they stayed,” Rodriguez told reporters on Wednesday ahead of the Liberal caucus meeting. Facebook eventually lifted the ban after reaching an agreement with the Australian government to change some terms of the law. “He was not well received by the Australian people, and I don’t think he would be well received by the Canadian people.”

The Federal Government announced its support for Australia against Facebook at the time, and it was then that the idea of ​​charging Facebook, Google and other online platforms to republish news content started gaining traction. land in Canada.

Facebook also hinted at blocking news content in Canada last year when reports that Ottawa was forcing it to share revenue with publishers began to emerge.

“What we’re saying here is that journalism has value,” Rodriguez added. “The platforms take advantage of this. It’s only fair that they make up for the newsrooms.

Rachel Curran, a Meta Canada executive, was asked directly at the House of Commons Public Safety Committee on Tuesday whether a ban on news content had been ruled out.

“We are still reviewing all options based on our assessment of the legislation,” Curran replied. Curran added that Meta was unaware of the “scope” of Bill C-18 until it was introduced and had “pretty serious concerns.”

The Meta executive also alleged that the company was “not consulted” on the contents of Bill C-18. Rodriguez said that wasn’t true.

“They lied,” he told reporters in French. “Facebook yesterday in committee said they weren’t consulted, which is not true.”

The Minister of Canadian Heritage said he personally met Meta on Feb. 10 and his staff spoke with the company regularly. Rodriguez said parliamentary procedure prevents the contents of a bill from being disclosed before it is tabled in the House of Commons, but he said Meta has been consulted with other social media platforms.

“For us, it’s a simple principle. The door is open. We are ready to discuss,” he said.