(LifeSiteNews) — Facebook will run a test by blocking some Canadians from sharing news in anticipation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s internet censorship bill.
On June 1, Meta, the parent company in charge of social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, announced it will begin testing by censoring news websites for some Canadians in preparation for Bill C-18 that aims to censor online content across Canada.
“As we have shared, content from news outlets, including news publishers and broadcasters, will not be available to people accessing Facebook and Instagram in Canada if Bill C-18, the Online News Act, is passed into law,” the statement read.
“As we prepare to comply with the legislation, we are announcing today that we will begin tests on both platforms that will limit some users and publishers from viewing or sharing some news content in Canada,” it continued.
The test period will randomly select Canadian accounts that will be blocked from viewing some news posts on Facebook. The news outlets will be able to post their content, but some Canadians may not be able to access it. It is not clear whether the news outlets will be notified if their content is being censored.
Meta is “identifying news outlets on our platforms based on the current language of Bill C-18. As drafted, the legislation states that news outlets are in scope if they primarily report on, investigate, or explain current issues or events of public interest.”
According to the statement, Meta considers the Online News Act “fundamentally flawed legislation that ignores the realities of how our platforms work, the preferences of the people who use them, and the value we provide news publishers.”
However, Meta promises to work toward enforcing the act should it become law. “While these product tests are temporary, we intend to end the availability of news content in Canada permanently following the passage of Bill C-18,” the statement declared.
In April, the Trudeau government passed Bill C-11, which Senator Marc Gould explains “would amend the Broadcasting Act to modify Canada’s broadcasting policy, bring into the act ‘online undertakings’ that transmit content over the internet, and change the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) regulatory powers, among many other things.”
Bill C-11 will in effect force social media companies and others to promote more Canadian content but could regulate user content as well.
In practice, Bill C-11 mandates that the CRTC oversee the regulation of online content on platforms such as YouTube and Netflix to ensure that such platforms promote Canadian content in accordance with a variety of CRTC guidelines.
Recently, the Trudeau government decided to fast-track another content-regulation bill, C-18, titled the “Online News Act,” by rushing it through the House of Commons. This bill is also currently before the Senate.
The fast-tracking of Bill C-18 comes despite it being blasted by critics as an attack on independent media, with some warning it could lead to the “death” of the free press in Canada.
According to the bill’s text, news outlets that are given the label of a “qualified Canadian journalism organization” could receive favorable rankings on Big Tech platforms and would even be entitled to “fair compensation” whenever their news content is shared on such sites.
Due to the broad nature of the mandate, critics have noted that to put the law into practice could take years of back-and-forth debate.
Some of the bill’s most intense critics, such as Geist, have warned that Bill C-11 could spell disaster for internet freedom in Canada, especially content creators.
Retired Canadian colonel David Redman recently testified that legacy, or government-funded, media outlets are “ministries of propaganda” while at the same time the federal government’s research shows that Canadians do not want members of the cabinet deciding what news is “fake” or not.