Op-ed: Meta has crossed a line by banning news – how OBJ suggests that you respond


Meta has taken an irresponsible action this week.

It has announced that it will essentially shut down the social media accounts of Ottawa Business Journal ‒ and its sister community newspaper, Kitchissippi Times ‒ on both Facebook and Instagram.

Let me spin that a little. Meta, a company that does $120 billion in annual revenue, is banning the social posts of OBJ and a little community newspaper. The same is true for hundreds of other small newspapers, as well as the big players, such as the CBC, CTV, the Globe and Mail, etc. If you get your Canadian news from Facebook or Instagram, you’re out of luck. Consider yourself less informed, susceptible to the algorithms of social media giants.

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I’ve got a lot to say about this, some of which might be surprising, some of which might be illuminating. Buckle up.


First off, I’ve got mixed feelings about the Liberal government’s C-18 legislation (the Online News Act), which became law on June 22. This new law will require tech companies such as Meta and Google to negotiate with Canadian news organizations for posting or linking to their journalism. If they cannot come to an agreement, the CRTC will mediate.

Maybe the legislation is warranted; maybe it has missed the mark. None of the arguments below hinge on whether you like or dislike the new law.

Right off the top, let me assert the right of any private sector company to influence and oppose government legislation. I would not deny Meta or any other corporation the right to react.

However, any responsible company should respond to government legislation in a measured and carefully considered manner. Mark Zuckerberg and the executives at Meta have undeniably overreacted. With the proverbial click of a button, Meta has created an existential threat to journalism in Canada.

Let me explain that. Based on analytics, OBJ news will receive about 250,000 fewer impressions on Facebook and Instagram this month. That’s 250,000 fewer impressions for local news about an exciting technology company, a tourism initiative, a real estate development or a new entrepreneurial venture.

A quarter-million fewer impressions per month, three million fewer impressions per year. That’s not a small number. OBJ is a strong and nimble media company, so it will adapt and push forward. For smaller media outlets, this could be a death knell or, at the very least, accelerate their demise.

Meta has taken this irresponsible action against an important sector that is already on the brink. According to the best available research, about 500 newspapers in Canada have closed since 2018. Imagine 500 towns without a local newspaper.

I wonder how many more newspapers Meta might bury with its wrongheaded thinking.


I understand that trust in the media is low these days. Moreover, some people question the motives of the media or despise it entirely. Either way, the media plays a very unique role in our country and other democracies. It shares news in a timely, accurate and balanced manner to keep citizens informed. As the thinking goes, informed citizens make smarter decisions, especially at the ballot box. The media keeps the government and powerful people in check. The media reports on important matters such as business trends and climate change. The media ensures judicial decisions are shared, underpinning an open court system. There is no government agency (sorry, CBC), no organized network of bloggers, no non-profit that can easily replicate the role of private media outlets.


Let’s get down to brass tacks. The media isn’t the only business sector that has been coaxed to place more and more emphasis on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Almost every company and individual is spending an incredible amount of time and resources on social media.

If you accept that, then consider these questions. What if Meta shut down your company’s social media accounts? Let’s go one step further. What if Google delisted your company from search? Are you getting the picture now?

These social media platforms are fundamental to the success of most companies, almost like internet access and electricity. Has Meta grown so powerful that democratic countries need to consider its future? In the 1990s, the U.S. government sued Microsoft for trying to monopolize the personal computer market. If that action was taken because of pre-installs of Microsoft Windows, Explorer and Word, you would think the monopolization of search ‒ literally access to information in our modern age ‒ deserves far more scrutiny from legislators in Canada and beyond.


I’ve never put much faith in government. (Look how the Liberals have botched this. They’ve accomplished the exact opposite of what they intended with C-18.)

Let me instead place my faith in OBJ’s readers. How can you react to this?

First, create a direct digital connection with OBJ. Subscribe to our email newsletters. Scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email address (or look to the top of the right-hand column).

Second, consider becoming an OBJ Insider. This is the new subscription model from OBJ that gives readers access to exclusive online content, plus other perks such as printed publications mailed to your home or office. The best-case scenario for OBJ ‒ and other Canadian media outlets ‒ is for readers to pay for news. A newsroom that serves its readers is a newsroom that is positioned to succeed.

Third, if this issue irritates you as much as it does us, let Meta know how you feel. Curtail your advertising, post against Meta, cancel your account. Do what it takes to make Meta know that it has crossed a line.

All news in Canada will be removed from Facebook, Instagram within weeks: Meta

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