Facebook Public Affairs Ad by Meta https://www.facebook.com/ads/library/

Facebook Public Affairs Ad by Meta https://www.facebook.com/ads/library/


What If It Isn’t a Bluff?!: The Consequences of the Government’s Epic Bill C-18 Miscalculation Begin to Set In

As Bill C-18 made its way through the legislative process, the government and the media lobby groups supporting the bill insisted that Google and Meta were bluffing when they warned that legislation premised on mandated payments for links could lead the companies to stop Canadian news linking or sharing on their platforms. Proponents would point to the Australian experience or claim that links to Canadian news were simply too valuable for the platforms to walk away. Compromise amendments were ignored in favour of tough talk about not backing down, the platforms were investigated for daring to test link blocking, and MPs and Senators acted as stenographers for media lobby groups by introducing amendments that now leave the government with even less flexibility in the regulatory process. 

Over the past week, the reality appears to have begun to seep in. Meta has started advertising on its own platform its intention to stop news sharing on both Facebook and Meta, steadily reaching about 100,000 users per day. While some might suggest that the ads are simply part of the company’s playbook to convince the government to change the law, Meta says it has nothing to discuss with the government since the law has received royal assent and the regulation-making process cannot address their concerns. Meanwhile, Google has excluded Canada from its Bard AI chatbot, potentially a preview of technology and services that block Canada due to a hostile regulatory environment.

The Meta ad boycott from some governments and media companies unsurprisingly does not seem to be having much effect, given that the amount at stake is small relative to the cost of global liability for linking. Further, when the Liberal party still pays for advertising on Facebook and MPs rush to create Threads accounts, it reinforces the sense that they need the social media platform more than it needs them. 

The Canadian media, which lobbied for the legislation and spent years encouraging readers to share articles on Facebook or Instagram, is now racing to advise readers on how to access its content without the platform. Meanwhile, Postmedia is continuing the practice of running misleading editorials and reporters are using bad search skills to inaccurately claim that Google is already blocking news. Smaller and independent media companies are sounding the alarm, but they expressed concerns about the legislation from the very outset and were ignored by MPs and Senators. In short, panic is setting in and no amount of urging the platforms to compromise after the law has been acted is likely to change the equation. 

While there are some that seem to celebrate reduced dependence on the Internet companies, the better way to address that issue is through stronger privacy and data governance rules that the government has frustratingly slow-walked for years or through competition rules that have never been Canada’s strong suit. As Chris Waddell explains on this week’s Law Bytes podcast, simply blaming the tech companies failed to appreciate the complexity of the media’s challenges. Bill C-18 was never going to solve those challenges, but it might well exacerbate them. 

If both Google and Meta comply with the law by stopping news links, the result will reduced referral traffic by as much as 70%, the cancellation of existing deals worth millions, a bill that generates no new revenues, and increased presence of foreign news competitors. In fact, even if only Meta removes news linking, the bill is virtually guaranteed to result in a net loss. There were better ways to address this issue but those suggestions were ignored or ridiculed. By choosing politics over good policy, Rodriguez and the lobby groups who called the shots have created a worst case scenario in which everyone loses.


  1. Maybe the news media will go to court to have C18 declared unconstitutional.

    • There’s nothing unconstitutional about it. See Authorson V. Canada 2003:
      “The Bill of Rights does not protect against the expropriation of property by the passage of unambiguous legislation.”

      Parliament is allowed to take from whoever and give to whoever. They didn’t even need to use the false pretense of “linking = stealing”. They could have just passed legislation that took money directly from Meta/Alphabet and gave it directly to the media.

      Ironically, if they had done that, it would have been more obvious that it was a shakedown, but it likely wouldn’t have resulted in Meta/Alphabet blocking links.

      • M. Geist wrote this on Oct 22 about a Charter challenge:

        With regard to the constitutional concerns, the bill isn’t broadcast, it isn’t telecommunications, and it isn’t copyright. How then does it fit within federal powers? If the government claims powers over anything involving the Internet then there are no real limits on its jurisdiction. As for the charter statement, it inaccurately claims that the bill supports news organizations when the Internet platforms “monetize” their news content, even though that is not at all what the bill says or provides.

  2. There is no provision in Canada’s constitution that forces any private company to publish, link, or act as a platform for news. If any media group tried to challenge Meta or Google in court the suit would be quickly thrown out.

  3. Pingback: ICBA NEWS LINKS: Stuff The Federal Government Doesn't Want Canadians to See on Facebook - The ICBA Independent

  4. I have to wonder if the statements of the news media and the ministers involved rise to the level of libel. In particular I am thinking of the claim that Google and Meta are “stealing” content from the news media.

    • I personally think that it does amount to libel. These claims were made with the knowledge that it wasn’t true and it was intended to harm the reputation of the platforms.

      The thing is, the other party has to be willing to file a lawsuit in response. With the ensuing hellscape that is bound to hit the news sector, the platforms can just let the companies eat the losses without the need for expensive lawyers to get involved. Just close the door to the media outlets that were badmouthing you for months and let their businesses financially starve to death after. Why go through the trouble of suing some pipsqueak nobody in the process when the consequences of their actions would be more than sufficient?

    • How can you steal something that 99% of the news is behind a paywall?

      I keep asking this stupid question and no one has an answer.

  5. Francis Chartier says:

    Here’s another outcome to all of this. Google and Facebook stop showing Canadian ads. People start wondering why, they feel as if it’s unfair their are denied so and suddenly, by forces of psychology, consume MORE. Because you can bet right now some startup is developing an aggregate of all Canadian news. Then someone is going to make a news app, that’s simply a browser that shows that aggregate on one tab and google news on the other.
    It’ll take about 2 months because necessity is the mother of all invention. Google and Facebook will have lost all their Canadian news traffic and some new Canadian (hopefully) startup will get rich on it.

    The consequences of this bill is short term, because the internet is made of links and its stupidly easy to make a program that fetches those links. Might be a bit less smart than google news, but after a few iterations it’ll get better.

    • Maybe I am misunderstanding what you describe, but “Google and Facebook stop showing Canadian ads” is not happening.

      Canadian advertising can still happen – as evidenced in part by the decision of the Liberal party to continue on Meta properties.

      One place where my understanding is incomplete is whether news organizations can still **pay** Google and Facebook for advertising. I suspect it might be possible, but that the uncertainty around the interpretation is high enough and Google would not accept such ads because it would be risking being designated as “facilitating news access”.

      • I want to ask the stupid question again. 99% of news organizations have a paywall.

        How is this stealing?

        • You are WRONG! That question is NOT Stupid! 😉

          Seriously, though: The fact is that most “news organizations” benefit in one way from the platforms, in that platforms (currently) directly and indirectly provide exposure to those news organizations by allowing posts of links to those news sites by their customers or by third party or platform-provided news aggregators. So in this particular way, the benefit of the platforms to the news organizations is positive and it makes no sense to “charge” the platform for posting news links. Indeed, there are multiple “news organizations” that have stated they will go under if the platforms start blocking the posting of their links.

          The problem is that there IS an area where the platforms have caused severe cash flow problems for the news organizations, and that area is advertising. Advertisers see little benefit in paying news organizations for posting ads when the platforms can provide them with much better exposure for their ads. Historically, the news organizations have been funded by their advertising, and the new reality is that particular financial model no longer works for them. Revenue from advertising has dried up and the platforms are happily eating the news organizations’ lunches.

          So, just like a buggy whip company demanding government assistance when everybody drives cars, the news organizations are desperate to find a new revenue source. Somehow the LPC government has decided that they can go after the platforms on behalf of the news organizations, in exchange for positive coverage from those news organizations. (Oops, was I not supposed to say that part out loud?) The only reason we’re hearing about “stealing” and “paying their fair share” is because the LPC has learned that if you tell a lie loud enough and often enough, it eventually starts to be believed.

          What’s happened here is that the strategy to shake down the platforms for money has failed as they are not willing to play ball. Now the LPC government looks like the incompetent grifters they are, as the platforms simply refuse to pay the extortion fees.

          Bottom line is that the news organizations need to understand that the old business model is gone and is not coming back, and trying to lobby the government to keep them afloat is reprehensible and will never work.

  6. Yet another move by Trudeau and the Liberals (backed by the NDP) to police us.

    There’s no Court challenge here; the only solution is an election where people finally stop voting for Trudeau.

  7. escort kayıt, escort kaydı oluşturmak

  8. HELLO

  9. Start working right away from home! Good luck with your work, stay at home with your moms, or anyone else who needs a break needs a vacation. Start right away. Don’t get late trying because you only need a computer and a trustworthy computer connection.

  10. Start working right away from home! Good luck with your work, stay at home with your moms, or anyone else who needs a break needs a vacation. Start right away. Don’t get late trying because you only need a computer and a trustworthy computer connection.
    Click Here……> http://workzone12.blogspot.com

  11. Pingback: UK Version of “Online Harms Bill” wants to prefilter content without due process | easyDNS

  12. Pingback: This CBC Article About the Online News Act Is a Real Stinker – Pixel Envy

  13. Pingback: It’s the media vs. online platforms in the internet’s battle of the century – MetroBuzz

  14. Pingback: It’s the media vs. online platforms in the internet’s battle of the century - Apollo News

  15. I am baffled by the constitutionality of C-18. Links are speech. They are just addresses. We would never imagine a law that said, “You may not publish criticism of an MP without donating 1 cent to her campaign for every person who read it” would not violate free expression.

  16. Pingback: It’s the media vs. on the internet platforms in the internet’s fight of the century – VISIT FORTUNE CITY