As Big Tech companies throttle Canadian media in response to the Online News Act passed earlier this year, the sharing of online news content has been blocked for Canadians, threatening our democracy. At The Energy Mix, we’ve always made it our mission to keep Canadians connected to critical news about climate change, energy, and the shift off carbon. But now, Google and Meta are making it harder for you to get your hands on those stories.
In this time, the best way to stay in the know is to take a minute to subscribe to The Energy Mix. You can choose the climate and energy themes and top stories that go direct to your inbox, and make sure you never miss the climate news you need.
The Online News Act, adopted in June 2023 through Bill C-18, was intended to “enhance fairness in the Canadian digital news market” by introducing a bargaining framework for news businesses to “secure fair compensation when their news content is made available by dominant digital news intermediaries and generates economic gain.”
When it takes effect in late 2023, the legislation will require major tech companies that act as “digital news intermediaries”, including social media platforms and search engines, to compensate news producers for hosting links to Canadian news content. For a news organization to participate in bargaining under the Act, it must be a Qualified Canadian Journalism Organization or meet other statutory criteria, like operating in Canada and regularly employing two or more journalists in Canada.
Supporters say the Act “is a way to keep tech giants in check and cut into their digital dominance, and that journalists should be compensated for their work being used to help tech giants bring in more eyes and thus more ad revenue,” says CTV News. The Parliamentary Budget Officer found the bill would shift around $329 million to the Canadian news industry each year.
Big Tech’s Response
Access to news remains a critical resource to keep Canadians informed about how climate change – and the fight to prevent its worst outcomes – continue to affect our daily lives through political decisions and policies, groundbreaking studies, technological breakthroughs, and natural disasters like wildfires, floods, and extreme heat.
But even as climate pollution keeps pushing global temperatures past dangerous limits, two tech companies in particular, Meta (Facebook) and Alphabet (Google), are opposing the Act, with Google calling it an unfair “link tax” that disrupts the “free linking” that is fundamental to how the web works.
“Unfortunately, despite our many efforts to offer reasonable and balanced solutions that would help achieve the goals of Bill C-18, this new law remains unworkable,” the company says. Negotiations between the platform and the government have continued, but Google’s position has not changed.
In retaliation, Facebook and Google are blocking some Canadian residents from viewing Canadian news organizations’ content through their websites.
The companies say they intend to block all access to news links on Facebook, Instagram, and Google Search when the Act goes into effect. At the end of July, Meta announced it had begun the process.
As these companies gradually shut off access to news links in Canada, Canadians who count on these platforms for their daily news will need other ways to find it.
How Can You Stay Connected?
While Big Tech clamps down on your access to news, the climate crisis keeps accelerating, and timely, accurate information is as badly needed as ever. You can stay connected to The Energy Mix by subscribing to our newsletter—it’s free!—or by bookmarking our website.