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Canadian government, media firms pull Facebook advertising

Facebook street front sign in Menlo Park, California.
(Photo by Minette Lontsie via Wikimedia Commons)

The Canadian government and one of the country’s biggest telecommunications firms, Quebecor, say they will no longer buy advertising slots on various Meta products.

Those products include Facebook and Instagram, with the decision following the implementation of the Online News Act, which requires technology companies like Meta to negotiate payment with news publishers if they want to share or otherwise repurpose their content.

The new law prompted Meta to pull support for news on Facebook, Instagram and its other owned platforms, something it has threatened to do in other areas if similar proposals are passed.

“Facebook has decided to be unreasonable, irresponsible, and started blocking news,” Pablo Rodriguez, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, said in a statement on Wednesday. “This is why, today, we are announcing the government of Canada will be suspending advertising on Facebook and Instagram.”

Rodriguez said the Canadian government spends around $10 million (about U.S. $7.5 million) per year in advertising across Facebook and Instagram. The government will use that budget to advertise on other platforms, he affirmed.

At least one province, Quebec, has also announced plans to pull its advertising from Meta products, citing the company’s reaction to the new law. The City of Montreal will also follow suit, its mayor said.

The federal government continues to negotiate with Google, another company affected by the law, Rodriguez said. Google has threatened to block access to news on its products in Canada, but has yet to do so.

Quebecor is one of the largest private companies to support the new law, and, in doing so, has also vowed to stop advertising across Meta products. The firm owns the pay television system Videotron and French-language TV network TVA, as well as three newspapers that are affected by the law.

“Any move by Meta to circumvent Canadian law, block news for its users or discriminate against Canadian media content on its platforms, through its algorithms or otherwise, cannot be tolerated,” a spokesperson for Quebecor said in a statement.

Quebecor says Meta has so far refused to negotiate with it over payment for news content on Facebook and Instagram. The company didn’t say how much of its marketing budget went to social media ads on Meta products.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).