Link or Sink – Will Canada’s Online News Act Reshape The Internet?

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Whether you are based in Canada or not, this is an important story (and it provides insight into where the world of media might be going).

I’ve been passionately debating my disdain over Canada’s Online News Act (a law, Bill C-18) that forces Big Tech (primarily Meta and Google, for now) to pay legacy media companies when links (or “repurposed news”) are posted on their platforms that then drive traffic to these news media sites.
Instead of getting into the issue again, here is my primer: Big Tech, Big Media, Big Trouble And Big Lies.

I would also recommend reading these two pieces:

But the news keeps evolving.

Meta (which includes Facebook and Instagram) have made the proactive business decision to no longer allow their users to post links to news sites and have blocked many news sites from being able to post to their own pages.
The government is portraying Big Tech as both a monster that is hoovering up Canada’s advertising revenue, while then calling them essential players in maintaining public safety (talk about government rhetoric).
The legacy media players – which have positioned themselves as the victims and reputable sources/the truth that all Canadians should have access to – are both creating salacious (and untrue) articles about the law and Big Tech, while not really talking about the reality that Facebook (and others) drive a lot of traffic that they then monetize through advertising, subscriptions, etc. Plus, if we are to be honest, the bulk of these news sites’ content sits behind a paywall that most Canadians do not pay for/have access to.

What does Big Tech really think?

We don’t know.
Maybe they don’t believe there’s a real value in the links that people share from the news in relation to the other content that people create and share.
I would argue that content has value. but links? Not so much.
Maybe they, simply, don’t want to be stuck with a law that gives them no financial rails on what they might have to pay for providing these news media platforms with traffic.
Maybe they’re worried that if they play along and pay, these legacy media companies will simply amp up the amount of links and content to extract as much money as they like from Big Tech.
Maybe, if they pay news media for these links, it will force them to look at all of their creators and rethink how (or if) creators should be compensated.
To date, Google has not blocked any news from Canadian media sources.

It is a massive mess.

What can Canadians expect in the coming days, months and years?
What can other countries expect if there is a precedent set with this Canadian law?
What can Canadians do if they have, traditionally, relied on Facebook for these news links?
Is Google going to follow Meta and block links to Canadian news sites?

And, according to the Globe & Mail: Meta’s news ban fails to dent Facebook usage.

“Daily active users of Facebook and time spent on the app in Canada have stayed roughly unchanged since parent company Meta started blocking news there at the start of August, according to data shared by Similarweb, a digital analytics company that tracks traffic on websites and apps, at Reuters’ request… The estimates, while early, appear to support Meta’s contention that news holds little value for the company as it remains locked in a tense standoff in Canada over a new law requiring internet giants to pay publishers for the news articles shared on their platforms.”

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.