Government Talks To Canada About Meta Regulation

Government Talks To Canada About Meta Regulation
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

Both countries are clashing heads about how to regulate Big Tech, while former competition tsar Rod Sims wants the government to compel social media companies to publish news.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland (pictured above) has held talks with her Canadian counterpart about the best way to regulate Meta, according to a report in The Australian.

Facebook will begin downgrading news content for Australian users this week. Meta recently said it will not renegotiate news content funding deals with Australian publishers when current deals – under the News Bargaining Code – expire this year.

This has led to sharp criticism from the government. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described Meta’s move as ‘un-Australian’, and the government has flagged that it may try to force Meta to come to the negotiating table – a move that could push the tech giant to remove news posts altogether.

The Australian reports that Rowland has held talks with Canada’s Minister of Canadian Heritage Pascale St Ongle about how to tackle Meta.

“The Meta agenda is not exclusive to Australia, it’s not exclusive to Canada. “We see it being played out in the US, in Europe … it’s a playbook they have,” Rowland said. 

“It’s not only their market power, but when you combine that with a lack of transparency, a lack of regulation – and the way in which they react to any regulation or potential regulation – it demonstrates a complete disregard of the fundamental tenets of what we value in terms of our media ecosystem.

“Australia and Canada are like-minded liberal democracies who share these values around public interest journalism and the value of the fourth estate.”

Meanwhile, the former ACCC boss Rod Sims says the Albanese government should force social media platforms to publish news content in an effort to combat misinformation.

Sims said that if governments don’t act, social media companies will continue to serve “more outrageous content” that is “reinforcing you and your own little echo chamber”.

Meta’s algorithm serves content it believes matches a user’s interests and will keep people on platform for longer. The tech giant has previously said that users have been increasingly turning off news and it only accounts for 3 per cent of the content on Facebook. Meta also says that Australian publishers derive $115 million in value by distributing content on its platforms

Australian independent publishers have expressed concerns that if the government backs Meta into a corner, it could stop them from publishing and distributing news on its platform, which could be damaging for their digitally-focused business models.

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