Big Media Previews “Finding Out” As Meta Tests Blocking Canadian News Links

Big media was f***ing around with the Bill C-18 link tax. Now it will preview finding out as Meta test blocks news links.

Canada’s link tax, Bill C-18, is currently working its way through the Canadian senate. Experts, observers, and organizations alike have been warning all the way up until now that trying to force a link tax on platforms is a terrible idea. Their businesses depend little on news links, it’s a violation of Canada’s international trade obligations, the US could potentially retaliate, the CRTC would struggle to try and manage this, it’s a charter violation, lawsuits would happen, the media will never be satisfied with how much money they would receive even if everything went smoothly, links are always supposed to be free on the internet, and, most of all, the platforms will simply block news links altogether rather than participate in the shakedown and pay the ransom.

Unfortunately, all of those analysis, criticisms, objections, protests, papers, and petitions have largely fallen on deaf ears. The government and it’s supporting core lobbyists have responded by saying that every criticism is just disinformation, that online media is “opinion only“, that anyone criticizing the bill just hates the media and wants to see disinformation proliferate, and their gut feeling is much more credible than every other analysis out there. With the supporters and government jamming their fingers into their ears screaming “lalala I can’t hear you”, it appears that big media and government is going to have to learn the hard way. Reality doesn’t care what your personal belief on the situation is.

It appears that Meta has realized this and has taken the next step in testing the blocking of Canadian news links. From CP24:

OTTAWA – Meta is preparing to block news for some Canadians on Facebook and Instagram in a temporary test that is expected to last the majority of the month.


[disinformation deleted]


Rachel Curran, head of public policy for Meta Canada, said this first temporary move will affect one to five per cent of its 24 million Canadian users, with the number of those impacted fluctuating throughout the test.

Randomly selected Canadian users will not be able to see or share news content in Canada either on Instagram or Facebook.

She said that could include news links to articles, reels – which are short-form videos – or stories, which are photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours.

However, the experience won’t be the same for every user who is subject to the test.

β€œIt won’t be a uniform experience, necessarily. Some news links won’t be shareable on Facebook, but it might not be that experience on Instagram. It will be a different experience on different surfaces,” Curran said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

In all of this, it seems that the big media won’t stop or change their ways as they push Bill C-18. So, no matter how many times they are warned that nothing good will come from their f***ing around, it seems that the platforms have no choice but to carry through with their warnings and force the large media outlets to find out. No doubt there will be considerable “finding out” among the media outlets as they watch their traffic take a hit, so the expectation is that the media will whine all month about this.

The problem is, they can whine all they want, but at the end of the day, they put themselves in this situation. They lobbied for the bill, ignored the warnings, attacked anyone who disagreed, and forced their fantasy version of how the internet works on everyone else. Sooner or later, reality is going to catch up to them and when the consequences of their actions catches up, they will only have themselves to blame. They will see traffic drop and the truth will always be that they are the architect of their own undoing.

As for Meta, this was the only logical move to make under the circumstances. They are being demanded to do unreasonable things in this country. The international risk is that others will only be emboldened to pass similar laws if they went along with this as well, and the unlimited liability that was staring down at them for such a tiny part of their business model. They flatly admitted that news content can easily replaced with other content quite easily. It would’ve been crazy to do anything other than eventually block news links.

(via @MickeyDjuric)

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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