B.C. drops Facebook, Instagram advertising in response to Meta’s news block, says Eby

B.C. drops Facebook, Instagram advertising in response to Meta's news block, says Eby

The British Columbia government says it has stopped advertising on Facebook and Instagram to send a message to parent company Meta, which is blocking Canadian news from the social media platforms.

Meta’s decision to cut off news access for many people in British Columbia is “unacceptable,” Premier David Eby said in a statement.

B.C.’s move comes after the federal and Quebec governments suspended advertising on the Meta platforms on July 5, in response to the tech giant’s announcement that it would block Canadian news on its platforms in response to the new federal Online News Act, which became law on June 22.

“Local media creates much of the content that tech giants have relied on to build their business models, and many British Columbians now rely on social media to get their news,” Eby said.

“Meta’s decision to cut off that access is totally unacceptable.”

The Online News Act, expected to come into force within six months, will require the largest digital platforms, including Meta and Google, to negotiate with Canadian news businesses and pay for the use of their content.

Eby’s statement said B.C. wants to send a strong message to Meta that “journalism is a vital public service and access to news should never be blocked (and) our government has decided to stop all advertising on Facebook and Instagram.”

The statement said B.C. will only advertise on Meta to provide the public with critical information related to public health and safety emergencies, including wildfire information.

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Eby was not immediately available for an interview.

The statement said Google has said it will block Canadian news when the act comes into force, but the company is in discussions with the federal government.

B.C. would continue advertising on Google as these conversations continue, the statement says.

Canadian media, including the Toronto Star, CBC, Postmedia and Bell Media, have also announced plans to stop advertising on Facebook and Instagram.

Announcing the federal advertising ban earlier this month, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez blasted Meta for choosing not to negotiate with the government and instead block content for some users as part of a test.

“Facebook has decided to be unreasonable, irresponsible, and started blocking news. This is why today, we are announcing the government of Canada will be suspending advertising on Facebook and Instagram,” Rodriguez said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed his cabinet minister’s comments, calling Meta’s decision to block news “bullying.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2023.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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