kawarthaNOW’s response to news ban for Facebook and Instagram users in Canada

Facebook and Instagram's parent company Meta has begun to block all news content in reaction to federal government's Bill C-18 (the Online News Act)

Keep connected with local news and events from kawarthaNOW by bookmarking our website at kawarthanow.com and by subscribing to our enews at kawarthanow.com/subscribe. (Photo: kawarthaNOW)
Keep connected with local news and events from kawarthaNOW by bookmarking our website at kawarthanow.com and by subscribing to our enews at kawarthanow.com/subscribe. (Photo: kawarthaNOW)

Many of our readers have reached out to us this week to express their concern for kawarthaNOW as a locally owned independent media company in the face of the decision by Meta — the parent company of both Facebook and Instagram — to block Canadians from accessing news on both social media platforms.

Our first assurance to you, our readers and our advertisers, is that kawarthaNOW will continue to thrive despite this decision. We have a talented team producing high-quality journalism every day and we will continue to do so regardless of what Meta does. We have enjoyed sharing content on Facebook and Instagram and connecting with our readers on these platforms; however, over 70 per cent of our audience visits our website directly and not through social media.

Meta made its decision to remove news from Facebook and Instagram in response to the federal government’s Bill C-18 (the Online News Act), which requires both Meta and Google to pay Canadian media companies for showing links to news content. Rather than paying, Meta is blocking all news content to Canadians on its platforms.

“In order to comply with the Online News Act, we have begun the process of ending news availability in Canada,” Meta writes in an August 1st statement. “These changes start today, and will be implemented for all people accessing Facebook and Instagram in Canada over the course of the next few weeks.”

“News links and content posted by news publishers and broadcasters in Canada will no longer be viewable by people in Canada,” the statement continues. “People in Canada will no longer be able to view or share news content on Facebook and Instagram, including news articles and audio-visual content posted by news outlets. ”

While we are disappointed in Meta’s decision to block news on its platforms, we will continue to connect with our valued readers in other ways. We currently have over 72,000 regular readers of our website (and higher on many days) and some very devoted fans (we appreciate your direct support and readership). For some time, we have been working strategically to prepare for Meta’s threat to block news content on its platforms and will continue to keep you apprised of our progress. Part of our strategy includes expanding our audience and the sharing of our content on other social media platforms that are not blocking news.

The best method to stay connected with us is to visit our website at kawarthanow.com every day. You can also subscribe to our enews at kawarthanow.com/subscribe to read about community news and events and to enter our weekly giveaway contests. We will also use our enews to communicate changes and updates to our readers.

We also encourage you to follow us on other social media platforms that aren’t blocking news, including Twitter (now called X), LinkedIn, Bluesky, and Threads. We regularly post content on these platforms and you can freely share and comment on our content on these platforms. We will also soon be regularly posting our content on TikTok as well.

The other shoe that has yet to drop as a result of the Online News Act is Google, which also falls under the provisions of the legislation. While Google has not yet removed links to news in its search engine, Google has stated it intends to do so.

“The Government has not given us reason to believe that the regulatory process will be able to resolve these structural issues with the legislation,” the statement reads. “As a result, we have informed them that we have made the difficult decision that, when the law takes effect, we will be removing links to Canadian news publications from our Search, News, and Discover products.”

Despite this statement, Google has also said it will work with the federal government throughout the regulatory process. While the Online News Act is now technically in effect, the federal government still needs to draft regulations to implement the legislation and has until December to do this. We are hopeful Google and the federal government will reach a compromise by then.

We would like to be clear that kawarthaNOW does not support the process that culminated in Bill C-18, which received Royal Assent on June 22 and became the Online News Act. We feel the federal government only developed the legislation in response to intense lobbying efforts by large corporations representing the newspaper industry that began in 2020, with large corporate broadcasters later supporting these lobbying efforts.

In passing Bill C-18, the Senate also pandered to legacy media, ignoring input and warnings from both local independent media similar to kawarthaNOW as well as longtime journalists and industry and legislative professionals. We believe the Online News Act is based on poor policy decisions and is deeply flawed legislation that will harm rather than help Canada’s media industry. It does not serve the interests of Canadians and should be repealed.

We cannot state it better than Michael Geist, a respected law professor at the University of Ottawa who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law and is a member of the Centre for Law, Technology and Society. In a recent post, Geist wrote:

“Canadian media is a loser, particularly the small and independent media outlets that are more reliant on social media to develop community and build their audience. The loss of Facebook links will take a serious toll and undermine innovative companies in Canada. The Internet platforms are losers as they comply with an unreasonable law by removing links and making their services objectively worse in order to do so. Individual Canadians who use the platforms to find links to news are losers since news links will be blocked from the platform. And the government is a loser, as having dismissed critics and ignored repeated warnings about the risks associated with its bill, it has now left Canada as the global example of digital policy disastrously gone wrong.”

Jeannine Taylor, Founder, CEO & Publisher
Bruce Head, Managing Editor

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Jeannine Taylor
Jeannine Taylor is the CEO, founder, and publisher of kawarthaNOW.com and a contributing writer. She's a self-professed geek and early adopter. Jeannine has over 30 years of experience in marketing, media and communications, and web development. She has been a digital media publisher for over 25 years since kawarthaNOW.com was launched online as Quid Novis in 1996. Her awards include Peterborough's Business Woman of the Year in 2005, a Premier's Award nominee in 2003, and a City of Peterborough Civic Award for chairing the development of Millennium Park. She's also a vegetarian, music lover and, cultural enthusiast. Jeannine would rather be at the cottage kayaking or hanging out with @caitthebordercollie. You can follow her on Instagram @wired_woman or on Twitter @wiredwoman.