After Australia, the Canadian government has said that it will make Facebook Inc shell out money for the news content that it uses on its platform and has sought to get together allies in the media battle with tech giants. The country has also vowed not to back down even if the social media company blacks out the country’s news as it did in Australia.
In response to the proposed new law in Australia that will force Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to pay the Australian publishers for the news links and stories that the tech companies publish on their platforms, the social media platform blocked all Australian news content on its service in Australia.
Condemning the action of Facebook in Australia, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, in charge of drafting a legislation that is similar to that of Australia which is expected to be unveiled in coming months, said that such as move would not deter Canada.
“Canada is at the forefront of this battle … we are really among the first group of countries around the world that are doing this,” he told reporters.
Warning of a possible market failure without government action was issued by Canadian media organizations last year. Using the approach of Australia could allow Canadian publishers of news Canadian media organizations, they said. But if there is no government action, 700 print journalism jobs out of 3,100 in total could be lost in Canada.
The Australian model could be adopted by Canada, Guilbeault said. The new regulation in Australia makes it mandatory for Google and Facebook to strike commercial agreement with news outlets whose links drive activity on their services or face independent arbitration for the amount of money to be paid.
Another possibility is the one that has been taken by France under which tech giants such as Facebook and Google are required to open talks with publishers who are looking for payments against the use of their content.
“We are working to see which model would be the most appropriate,” he said. He had spoken to his counterparts in France, Australia, Germany and Finland over the issue of working together to ensure that tech companies give fair compensation to publishers for using their content on their platforms.
“I suspect that soon we will have five, 10, 15 countries adopting similar rules … is Facebook going to cut ties with Germany, with France?” he asked, saying that at some point Facebook’s approach would become “totally unsustainable”.
A turning point was marked by the Facebook action and that would require a common international approach, said University of Toronto professor Megan Boler, who specializes in social media.
“We could actually see a coalition, a united front against this monopoly, which could be very powerful,” she said.
Less than 4 per cent of the content that Facebook’s users view on the platform is accounted for by news, Facebook said this week but claimed that as much as AU $407 million was generated by Australian publishers last year because of the social media company.
On the other hand, for its new News Showcase service, about 500 deals worth around $1 billion over three years have been signed by Google all around the world. The company is currently in talks with Canadian companies as well.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)