Facebook Begins Running Ads Warning Canadians of End to News Link Support

Facebook is running an ad campaign warning Canadian users that news link support will soon be coming to an end.

There’s little doubt that news links on Facebook, Instagram, and Google are going away. That much is pretty certain no matter how many times the large media companies publishing self-reassuring articles saying that it worked out in Australia, therefore it will automatically work out here because reasons. For those not living in the fantasy world, though, the real question is when the other shoe will drop. When will that switch get pulled.

Well, last week, when the government capitulated to try and woo the platforms back, the “clarifying” language did suggest that the law would come into force by December 19. So, when Meta and Google announced the end of news link support, they said that it will happen before the bill comes into force. As a result, we have an idea of the longest period of time available before that switch gets pulled. The thing is, that switch can get pulled any time between now and then.

Recently, reports have been surfacing of Facebook running an ad campaign saying that support for Canadian news links is going to come to an end soon. Peter Menzies noted this new ad campaign on Friday:

Looks like this began running today

Menzies also posted a screenshot of the entire advertising package:

Here’s the whole package

The first screenshot reads as follows:

To comply with the Online News act, we’re ending news availability on Facebook and Instagram in Canada

To comply with federal legislation, viewing and posting news content will no longer be possible on Facebook and Instagram in Canada.

The only way we can reasonably comply with this legislation is to end news availability.

The Online News act is based on the incorrect premise that social media companies benefit unfairly from news content shared on our platforms.

The second screenshot adds the following text:

The reverse is actually true. News outlets voluntarily share content on social media to expand their audiences and help their bottom line.

The only way we can reasonably comply with this legislation is to end news availability.

Canadians will always be able to connect with friends and family, grow their businesses and support their local communities.

The warnings are certainly stark. as a result of the running of these ads, some have been speculating that the blocking of news links could happen sooner rather than later. Obviously, we still don’t know when the switch will actually get pulled. Whether the ad campaign is set to last a week, a month, two months, or three before the switch is finally pulled, all of the above would be reasonable warning time windows. After all, they all happen before the new law comes into force.

Meta, for its part, has already turned down the governments effort to capitulate on the law and said that they are going to be moving forward with this plan. There’s still no word on Google’s reaction to the capitulation, but the fact that Meta has refused the capitulation outright does put pressure on Google to follow suit.

This looming news sector disaster is coming, but there doesn’t appear to be anything stopping it. People have asked me what can be done to dissuade the platforms from doing this – if there is something that can be done about it. My answer, sadly, is that nothing can be done about it now. There were alternative ideas proposed such as a fund model or limiting the eligibility to only a handful of players or a host of other ideas. The problem is that all of those proposals were ignored and, when the bill passed, the government slammed the door shut to these ideas. The train has left the station and there’s seemingly nothing stopping this disaster from unfolding. Really, for some outlets, the only option is to prepare to give their readers their last sign off before the switch is pulled. Unless there is some brilliant way of pivoting hard from Facebook (assuming that the media company in question was depending hard on Facebook) to something bold an drastically different, those companies are completely screwed.

The only hope now is that the government repeals the new law. That is probably one of the most unlikely things to happen at this point. So, something miraculous and dramatic has to happen somewhere along the line. Otherwise, nothing is going to stop the inevitable. the countdown to disaster has already begun and only the platforms themselves have access to how much time is truly left on the clock.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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