Google and Meta, Facebook’s parent company, will block links to Canadian journalism later this year for people in Canada in response to a new law that requires tech companies to compensate publishers for links between stories.
With Australia passing a similar measure in 2021, more countries are considering compensatory legislation as media continue to lay off journalists in record numbers while Silicon Valley giants rake in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue .
As we face a potential showdown between lawmakers and journalists on one side and internet gatekeepers on the other, here’s what you need to know about Canada’s online news law and its impact on you. .
What’s up with Google, Facebook and Canada?
The Online News Act, which will come into effect at the end of 2023, requires Google and Meta to compensate publishers when they link to news content. It’s part of an effort to inject cash into news publishers after the internet revolution upended traditional outlets’ revenue streams.
Previously, newspapers relied on subscriptions, advertising, and classified sections to keep their newsrooms operational. But with the shift to online news, subscription revenue dried up as people began to search for free news, and sites like Craigslist and eBay, rather than newspaper classifieds sections, were used to sell people’s goods.
Between 2008 and 2021, 450 Canadian media have closed, according to Pablo Rodriguez, the Minister of Canadian Heritage. He says this has led to public distrust and the rise of misinformation. Currently, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation encourages Canadians to visit its site directly to keep up to date with the latest news.
Does it have an impact on people in other countries?
Currently, the Google and Facebook restrictions won’t affect Canadians until later this year, when the law comes into force. This means that Americans who want to learn about news in Canada should always find news results from Canadian publications in search.
Canada is not the first government to pass publisher compensation legislation. The first was Australia, where in 2021 it adopted the News Media Negotiation Code. It is expected to bring in $130 million a year, with the Australian Treasury already calling the law a success. Both Google and Meta resisted the Australian law before finally coming to the negotiating table.
The California state legislature also advanced a similar law last month requiring Big Tech giants to pay for links to content, with Meta already threatening to pull news content if the law passes. US senators attempted to pass a similar law called the Journalism Competition Preservation Act last year, but it ultimately failed to pass Congress. However, lawmakers resurrected the legislation last month and hope to put it to a vote.
How to find news without Google or Facebook
For Canadians looking to catch up on news later this year, here are some ways to find news.
- World News. The new law only affects Canadian publishers, so searching Google for hot topics will still bring you news from non-Canadian publications.
- Bing. Microsoft said it will continue to provide informational links to Canadians on its Bing search engine. “Microsoft supports a strong and independent news and media ecosystem as an essential ingredient of social cohesion and the foundation of our democratic systems of government,” Microsoft said in a statement.
- Canadian news and social media sites. You can go directly to Canadian news sites and consider setting a Canadian news website like CBC or Global News as the default homepage on a web browser.
- Social media accounts. You can also follow these media on social media platforms like Twitter. Meta says it is still assessing the impact of the Online News Act on news links on its new Twitter competitor, Threads. There are also website aggregator sites like Feedly that can give you a Twitter-like feed of all the news posts you follow.
- Get a VPN. It should also be possible for Canadians to use a VPN and set their location to the US or another country. This should allow links from Canadian publishers to appear in search and on Facebook. Be sure to check out CNET’s advice on the best VPN services before signing up.
- Reddit. For Reddit users, subscribing to the r/Canada subreddit is a good way to find the top stories people are discussing. Cities and provinces like r/Toronto and r/BritishColumbia also have their own dedicated Reddit pages.
- Support Canadian journalism. Post.news is a new website that lets you redeem points for local stories. You can follow posts the same way you do on Twitter, and it will bring you a feed of all the latest stories. Signing up gives you 50 free points and each point costs less than a penny to purchase. Even though the cost is minimal, using a few points to read articles earns websites far more than a banner ad on the side of a webpage.
How has Big Tech affected journalism?
The state of journalism is one of many concerns of governments around the world about the power of Big Tech. The industry has been largely unregulated, allowing tech giants to expand rapidly around the world. Regulators are also noticing newsroom closures and continued layoffs. In the United States, 2,500 news outlets have closed since 2005.
As the Internet matured, major technology platforms such as Google and Facebook carved out the lion’s share of online traffic, being the de facto medium through which people searched for information.
Google, in particular, not only controls the window to the internet for billions of people through search, Chrome and Android, but also the advertising market and related technology, which is its own antitrust lawsuit by the US Department of Health. Justice. This gives Google huge influence over traffic generation, which means that for a site to be successful, it needs to optimize its content for Google search. And as Google floated more ads to the top of search, including e-commerce links, it had an immediate impact on how much money websites can earn.
What will the law do for Canadian journalism?
It is estimated that the Canadian law will bring in $329 million to Canadian newsrooms. For comparison, Google and Meta generated $285 billion and $117 billion in revenue respectively last year. Assuming each company had to shell out $329 million, that would be just 0.11% of Google’s revenue in 2022 and 0.28% for Meta.
“Big tech would rather spend money changing their platforms to block news from Canadians than pay a small cut of the billions they earn in ad dollars,” Rodriguez said in a statement. Tweeter. “Canadians will not be intimidated. Big Tech is not bigger than Canada.”
However, Google has already shown that it is ready to play the long game; Google News pulled out of Spain for eight years after a similar publisher compensation law was passed before returning last year.
Google did not respond to a request for comment. Meta said he had nothing more to add.