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Bill C-18 | Meta says it never paid for links in its media deals



(OTTAWA) Facebook’s parent company Meta says it has “never paid for links” under its deals with Canadian and Australian news groups and has no intention of doing so. do in the future.

“We never paid for links […] and we really don’t want to pay for [cela] because it breaks a very important thing not only for our platform, but also for the internet. The internet belongs to everyone,” Meta global policy director Kevin Chan said Friday when appearing before the House of Commons Heritage Committee.

According to him, the agreements that bind Meta to press companies have one and the same goal, namely to “develop new models [pour] innovate on the platform and innovate with internet tools”.

Mr. Chan reiterated Meta’s strong criticism of Bill C-18 before the committee. The piece of legislation proposed by Justin Trudeau’s Liberals aims to force digital platforms – mainly Google and Facebook – to enter into fair compensation agreements with news companies for the sharing of their journalistic content.

“Facebook is already helping Canadian publications,” Chan said.


Meta Global Policy Director Kevin Chan

He repeated that Meta estimates that links posted on Facebook redirecting to media content generate 1.9 billion clicks per year, which would be the equivalent of 230 million.

“In plain terms, we are being forced to pay publishers [de nouvelles] to give them free Facebook marketing,” Chan added.

He further asserted that Bill C-18, if it becomes a reality, will make it more difficult for media to transition to a digital model.

Mr. Chan recalled that Meta is threatening to make it impossible to share media content on its platform if the legislation comes into force in its current form.

On this point, Bloc Québécois Martin Champoux pointed out that Meta ended up backtracking in Australia and concluding major agreements with press companies.

“If journalistic content is worth nothing to Facebook and does not bring anything to Facebook, why, then, did you agree so wholeheartedly — if you will lend me the irony — to sign agreements and go back on your decision to block content? “, he launched.

It was then that Mr. Chan countered that it had nothing to do with the link-sharing payment.

In addition, Meta’s director of global policies would not confirm how much advertising revenue the company derives from sharing this kind of content.

The elected officials of the heritage committee also heard testimony on Friday from a former president of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Konrad von Finckenstein, who expressed reservations.

The latter said that the implementation of Bill C-18 will pose significant challenges to the CRTC if amendments are not made.

For example, he indicated that he considers the definition of eligible media in the bill to be too vague.

The president of the National Federation of Communications and Culture, Annick Charette, also called for a tightening of the criteria since she considers that respect for journalistic standards is practically not included.

“I don’t think you should recognize professional companies by the fact that there are one, two, three or four journalists, but [plutôt au fait] that they are doing professional work recognized as such by fairly specific criteria, she argued. Moreover, there are criteria to be eligible for certain tax programs. »

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said he was open to amending C-18 when he appeared before the same committee last week.

In a written statement sent late Friday, the minister’s press secretary, Laura Scaffidi, reacted to the Meta leader’s testimony and the multinational’s threat to no longer share Canadian media content on its platform: “It’s not surprising, but it’s disappointing to see Facebook doing the same thing they did in Australia. We have always been open to strengthening the bill, but we are not open to doing nothing. Facebook can still choose to work with the government and parliamentarians. We hope to continue our discussions with the platform. »

Several press companies have already concluded individual agreements, which have remained confidential, with Meta and Google.

The Canadian Press and Meta launched a program in 2020 to provide around ten scholarships per year to young journalists at the start of their career.

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