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Canada's government to stop advertising on Facebook and Instagram after Meta says it will block news

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Canada's government announced Wednesday it would stop advertising on Facebook and Instagram, in response to Meta's decision to block access to news content on their social platforms as part of a temporary test.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez announced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government's decision at a news conference.

Canada's move is the latest episode in a spat that started after Trudeau's administration proposed a bill that would require technology companies to pay publishers for linking to or otherwise repurposing their content online.

Meta promised at the time to block Canadian news content on its Facebook and Instagram platforms to address Canada's recently passed Online News Act.

Rodriguez said the decision from Meta is "unreasonable" and "irresponsible," and as a result Canada would stop advertising on their platforms.

Reacting to the latest Canadian announcement, a Meta spokesperson said Wednesday that the Online News Act is a "flawed legislation that ignores the realities of how our platforms work," and that the company does not collect links to news content to show on their social platforms. He said publishers are the ones deciding to post them on Facebook or Instagram.

"Unfortunately, the regulatory process is not equipped to make changes to the fundamental features of the legislation that have always been problematic, and so we plan to comply by ending news availability in Canada in the coming weeks," said the spokesperson on a statement sent to The Associated Press.

The annual report on government spending shows the federal government spent just over 11.4 million Canadian dollars (around $8.6 million) advertising on Facebook and Instagram in 2021-2022.

Google has also promised to start blocking Canadian news when the bill takes effect in six months.

Rodriguez said the government is in talks with the company and believes their concerns will be managed by the regulations that will come to implement the bill.

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