Discovering news articles, photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram will soon become a relic of the past, as Meta has begun ending news availability in Canada.
Already many Facebook and Instagram users in the Peace Country have noticed they no longer have access to posts from ReachFM.ca and 96.3 Reach FM.
In June, Meta started running a test that limited news for up to five per cent of users, but now it says it is moving out of the testing phase.
This means Canadians will no longer be able to share or view news articles and other content posted by publishers and broadcasters.
News links to articles, reels — which are short-form videos — or stories, which are photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours, are also expected to be affected by the block.
People outside of Canada will not see a change.
Local news can still be viewed directly online without using Facebook as an intermediary. Bookmarking ReachFM.ca or downloading the Reach FM app allows users to find all local content published without needing to find it in a social media feed.
In response to Meta blocking news on Facebook and Instagram for Canadian users National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt and Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) President Kevin Desjardins stated:
“Rather than working to ensure its users have access to trusted news and information, Meta is holding news content on its platform hostage. At a time when misinformation, disinformation and AI-generated content proliferate online, the future of democracy relies on the accessibility of fact-based, trustworthy journalism.”
Meta says the move to block news is a response to Bill C-18, or the Online News Act, which requires tech giants to enter into agreements that compensate Canadian news outlets for content shared or otherwise repurposed on their platforms.
The Online News Act will come into effect by the end of the year, as the Liberal government develops regulations — a process Meta has said it is not interested in being a part of.
With files from The Canadian Press