The Canadian Government is engaged in a battle with big tech corporations such as Google and Meta.
The government feels that these corporations have excessive control. Enter Bill C-18. This bill requires big tech corporations to provide financial compensation for news outlets that share Canadian News Content on their platforms. Google and Meta responded by halting Canadian news from appearing on their platform.
A closer look at Bill C-18
On July 5, Pablo Rodriguez, the Heritage Minister of Canada said, “… today we are announcing that the government of Canada will be suspending advertising on Facebook and Instagram”.
The bill was introduced in the House of Commons and passed through the Senate, receiving Royal Assent on June 22. The Bill was unclear about how much compensation must be handed out. The Bill states, “They provide for fair compensation for the news content that is made available by the intermediary”. Meta and Google would immediately have to start new procedures and negotiations to comply. This would mean a serious loss in revenue for the corporations.
Implications for Canadians
Meta has currently restricted all Canadian news from their platforms. This is proving to be a major upheaval in the lives of Canadians. Prior to Bill C-18, it was extremely easy to access news through Facebook and Instagram. All that was needed was to click on an app and start scrolling. However, these same Canadians are having to change their news consumption habits drastically.
The news that was to be found on Meta was often condensed into very small bite-sized forms. Now Canadians are being forced to read long-form articles in order to access their news. This could prove to be beneficial in increasing the literacy rates of Canadians.
The bill has proved to be an extremely contentious topic among Canadians. Many dissenting opinions are currently held by the public. Many are divided about the Bill.
Some feel that Big Tech has had a stranglehold on the economy. Corporations are becoming richer as the poor are becoming poorer. Therefore, when the government stepped in and issued Bill C-18, people were enthralled. Their government was finally taking a stand. However, these same people remain skeptical as they view Meta’s refusal to comply.
On the other side of the spectrum, others view this as a breach of governmental authority. They feel that the government is paying no heed to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom’s with regard to free speech. Corporations should be allowed to make decisions regarding their company as they see fit even if it negatively affects others. In other words, Laissez-Faire.
Canadian media is certainly in a state of flux. Many are wondering when they will be able to access their news as before. While tensions regarding Bill C-18 are rising, perhaps this is the time to unplug from the chaos of social media and embrace the mediums of the past such as radio and newspaper.