Clickbait And Switch – Canada’s Big Tech Showdown

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Oh, Canada…

Canadian news publishers (aka the big traditional media companies) and broadcasters are in a buzz, but getting stung in an attempt to get Big Tech to pay them for their links or repurposed content.
The Online News Act, known as Bill C-18, came to life in June.

What’s the big deal?

The Canadian Government laid down the law.
Google and Meta must now pay publishers for links or repurposed content (while, at the same time, Big Tech does not share in/get any of the advertising or subscription revenues that is generated from this referral traffic).
In layman’s terms: The government and media companies want the Canadian media advertising dollars back home, and hate the idea that all of this money, advertising and traffic is going to Silicon Valley.
With that, Meta/Facebook/Instagram made the call to no longer display/share news to their Canadian users (and, yes, this includes all news… not just the content created in Canada).


Canada’s Competition Bureau has just been called to action.
They’ve been tasked with investigating Meta (Google has yet to stop the flow of traffic to these media companies) and stop them from blocking news content.
That’s right, Facebook can’t cut Canada off.

The players in the game?

News Media Canada, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, and CBC. They’re unified, issuing a joint statement.

Their plea?

Stop Meta’s “abuse of its dominant position.”
They’re calling it anticompetitive.

Which, is bizarre…. right?

The government is telling Meta, that what they have done in the past is, essentially, “stealing.”
Meta is kinda saying, “we don’t consider sharing links and generating traffic to another site stealing, but if you do then we will stop doing it,” and now the government is going to force them to keep doing what they’re doing?
Can anyone demand that a thief keep on thieving?

The stakes are high.

Access to the advertising market is under threat.
Social platforms may reduce the visibility of smart and accurate news to Canadians.
This opens everyone up to more misinformation spreading, local news hurting, and audiences becoming less informed.
Oh, and Google might jump on the bandwagon too.

What’s the twist?

Media outlets rely on traffic and revenues from social media.
They’re biting the hand that feeds them.
Are they just wanting more?
Are they just angered that in more than two decades they have not been able to make significant financial digital advances?

The cost?

Think hundreds of millions of dollars.
Can Canadian media organizations handle that kind of loss in traffic and attention?

And here’s the weird part…

Media companies want tech giants to pay for traffic that’s driving ad revenue and possible subscriptions to their sites.
Meanwhile, social media platforms are told to pay for sending traffic but are not going to benefit from the ad revenue it generates for these media companies?
What about every other blog, online platform and more that do this… and make their living from this reciprocation of traffic and users for advertising and revenue?

Don’t forget the little guys.

Online-only players are in the mix as well (some small… and some big).
Most depend on Facebook for their content reach.
What’s their fate?

Did the government try fair negotiations with everyone at the table?

Was there a back-and-forth on how everyone can work together in a more equitable way?
Maybe put the “links-for-money” model aside, and ask Big Tech to help fund more journalism or other kinds of mutually beneficial modeling?
Maybe help Canadian media outlets generate more traffic?
To many, this smells like a one-way street and a massive miscalculation on the part of the government and media lobbying groups.
Now, media companies are begging Canadians to come to them directly (they’re doing this by taking ads out in their own channels).

It’s a wild ride.

The Online News Act is shaking up the Canadian media landscape.
Who wins, who loses?
Only time will tell.

But one thing’s clear: This isn’t business as usual. If laws do get set in Canada, they might create a precedence that actually hurts the consumers the most.

What is Tech Tuesday?

Every Tuesday – for just a few minutes – I join Heather Backman (my old buddy from her days on CHOM FM and Jack 103) on the air at 95.9 Star FM to give a quick blast about the current state of technology, media and Internet culture.
We call it Tech Tuesday (and we do it in just a few minutes).

Once the segment goes live on 95.9 Star FM, I will post it here for you to listen in, learn, share and engage.

Before you go… ThinkersOne  is a new way for organizations to buy bite-sized and personalized thought leadership video content (live and recorded) from the best Thinkers in the world. If you’re looking to add excitement  and big smarts to your meetings, corporate events, company off-sites, “lunch & learns” and beyond, check it out.