On the Meta stand at the “Game Developers Conference”, a video game trade show, on March 22, 2023 in San Francisco. JEFF CHIU / AP
Nearly a week after threatening to block access to Canadian newspaper publications, the Meta group has yet to carry out its threat. The approximately 27 million Facebook users in Canada can still discover on their “news feed” an article shared by Globe and Mail on air quality in Montreal linked to the huge forest fires still active in Canada, another of the Toronto Star celebrating the first diverse woman mayor, elected in Toronto on June 26, or a chronicle of The Press (Quebec digital newspaper) deciphering the trend « ugly chic » of summer.
But the digital giant, parent company of Facebook and Instagram, warned Ottawa: in six months, it will be the “blackout”. Six months is the time that the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau has given itself for its “law on online news”, definitively adopted on June 22, provoking the ire of Meta the same day, to come into force. . Six months, therefore, of arm wrestling in perspective, at the end of which the Californian company could purely and simply choose to escape the law.
The law, known as “C-18”, intends to compel the giants of the Web to negotiate financial agreements with the Canadian media whose content they broadcast. According to the government, it aims to rebalance the balance of power between ultra-powerful players, such as Meta or Google, which alone account for 80% of online advertising revenue in Canada, and traditional media in crisis, weakened by the digital revolution and the new information consumption habits adopted by citizens.
« Coup de bluff »
More than 450 Canadian radio, TV and newspapers have closed their doors since 2008, 20,000 journalists have lost their jobs, says the ministry in charge of the communication sector. But, arguing that news content represents only 2% to 3% of their platforms’ global exchanges, Meta and Google refuse to negotiate compensation with each of the approximately 700 protected municipal, regional or national press organs, eventually, by this legislative framework.
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The new Canadian legislation is directly inspired by a law, the first of its kind, adopted by Australia in 2021. At the time, in protest, Facebook immediately banned the information from its platform, but in Within days, the company and the Australian government had finally reached a compromise, allowing the company to escape punishment in exchange for hard cash deals with local media outlets, including the powerful group News Corporation, of tycoon Rupert Murdoch. The Canadian authorities therefore want to believe that the “pressure blow” of Meta against them, is only a « coup de bluff ». They hope for an outcome identical to that of Australia, to see the tech giants pass under the Caudines forks of a better sharing of wealth.
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