Meta’s news ban did not affect Facebook usage in Canada: report

According to Similarweb, a data analytics firm, the number of Canadians accessing the news over Facebook fell about 35% year-over-year in July and 74% since 2020.

Meta’s news ban did not affect Facebook usage in Canada: report
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An exclusive by Reuters revealed that Meta's censoring of Canadians from sharing news links had a negligible impact on Facebook usage in the country. 

According to data from Similarweb, an independent analytics firm, the number of active Facebook users and their time spent on the app has remained the same since Meta, the parent company, started blocking Canadian users on the platform beginning August 1.

Data.ai, another analytics firm, confirmed no meaningful change to Facebook usage by Canadians throughout August.

While Meta declined to comment on the estimates requested by Reuters, the data appears to support their assertion that posting news links does not constitute significant foot traffic for the platform.

In June, the tech behemoth said news sharing constitutes only 3% of Facebook content.

Amid its detente with the federal government, they maintain that news sharing holds little value for the company.

According to Similarweb, accessing the news fell about 35% year-over-year in July and 74% since 2020.

With Instagram users unable to link news within individual user posts, news content — except for media — was less of a presence on the platform even before the censor.

For Facebook, the aim is now to promote non-political subjects like fashion, entertainment and sports, reported Reuters.

On June 22, Parliament passed Bill C-18, the Online News Act, to force tech moguls like Meta and Alphabet — Google's parent company — to negotiate revenue-sharing deals with Canadian news publishers for linking their content.

Revenue sharing is worth $247.6 million a year to television networks and $81.6 million to government-approved publishers, according to an October 22 Budget Office report, Cost Estimate For Bill C-18.

Google has warned it may block Canadian users from searching for news on its web browser. It has yet to carry out its threat as of writing, as negotiations with the feds are ongoing.

Google executives told the Senate Transport and Communications Committee that compulsory revenue sharing "violates foundational principles of the open web," reported Blacklock's Reporter.

Meta said adding regulations would not improve a flawed bill, announcing on June 23 that "news availability will be ended on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada before the Online News Act takes effect."

"As we've previously stated, regulations cannot address the fundamental challenges with the legislation, and we relayed this to the minister today," said Rachel Curran, Meta's head of public policy in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge have accused Meta of censoring wildfire updates while tens of thousands fled their homes.

"Facebook has decided to abandon news even before the bill is fully in effect instead of participating in the consultation process and helping us make sure that the regulation is right and that it's good," said St-Onge.

"That's a choice and a decision that they made. And now we see that it is putting people's lives at risk."

The kerfuffle prevented residents from sharing timely news as the disasters unfolded, including wildfire locations and evacuation plans.

In response, Meta activated the "Safety Check" feature on Facebook, allowing users to inform loved ones they are safe during a natural disaster or crisis.

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