The Tech Company Brief by Hackernoon: Meta Stands Firm on News Ban

August 31, 2023


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It is such a weird time to be alive.

While the world at large witnessed harrowing images of wildfires raging across Canada’s western province of British Columbia over the past week, a larger battle of wits was taking place between the Canadian government and one of the tech behemoths of the world, Meta.

Apparently unmoved by the plight of thousands who have had to flee their homes due to one of the worst wildfire seasons in British Columbia’s history, Meta has so far refused to lift a ban on sharing news across its platforms, Facebook and Instagram, despite calls from the Canadian government to do so.

The reason? Money.

Meta refuses to budge because doing so would mean it would have to pay domestic news providers for sharing their content on its platform under a new law passed by the Canadian government. Nevermind the fact that the law is modeled after similar regulations in Australia, where Meta conceded to the government’s demands after failing to wrangle its way out of the situation.

Frustrated by Meta’s antics, the Canadian government continues to argue that the company’s “reckless” ban on domestic news has essentially left its people locked out of receiving important data about the fires.

Meta’s response? “Uh.. we don’t care.” Well, not literally, but a spokesperson of the company highlighted a bunch of “features” that might be better suited for users in light of the raging wildfires. For example, Facebook’s “Safety Check” which allows users to mark themselves safe in light of a natural disaster or crisis.

Alternatively, Meta suggested that users just get their information from the official pages of government agencies, emergency services and non-governmental organizations. Like, who needs news publishers, amirite? But more critically, Meta has maintained that users don’t come to its platform for news, which make up less than 3% of the content on its users’ feed, and forcing it to pay for content was just bad for its business.

How bad? Welllll…. According to an independent budgetary watchdog in Canada, news publishers could receive about $250 million per year from deals mandated by the new legislation from Meta and Alphabet-owned Google, who have dominated the online advertising market in the years since launch and hurt news providers’ bottomline.

Let’s put that $250 million per year into context for a moment. In 2022, Meta generated $23.2 billion in net income for the year, which is nearly 93x more than what Meta would have to pay news publishers in Canada if it agreed to share news on its platform. The $250 million per year is also a whole lot less than the $13.7 billion the company burned just in 2022 to bring CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s oddworld fantasy of making VR mainstream.

But oh no, paying Canadian news publishers is the problem and just bad business. Of course!


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already termed Meta’s arguments as flawed and “dangerous to our democracy, to our economy” in the past. For now, both sides remained locked in a battle to see who blinks first.

Meta, Facebook, and Instagram each occupied a space in the top 20 of HackerNoon’s Tech Company Rankings this week. Facebook was #3, Instagram was #14, and Meta was #18.

Facebook Ranking on HackerNoon's Tech Company News Pages

Facebook Ranking on HackerNoon’s Tech Company News Pages

Instagram Ranking on HackerNoon's Tech Company News Pages

Instagram Ranking on HackerNoon’s Tech Company News Pages

Meta Ranking on HackerNoon's Tech Company News Pages

Meta Ranking on HackerNoon’s Tech Company News Pages

In Other News.. 📰

  • Adobe co-founder Dr. John Warnock has died — he was 82 — via The Verge.
  • From Mad Men to machines? Big advertisers shift to AI — via Reuters.
  • Microsoft Plans AI Service With Databricks That Could Hurt OpenAI — via The Information.
  • Tesla says data breach impacting 75,000 employees was an insider job — via TechCrunch.
  • ‘It gave us some way to fight back’: New tools aim to protect art and images from AI’s grasp — via CNN.
  • Companies struggle to deploy AI due to high costs and confusion — via Axios.
  • The iPhone 15 could get one of the biggest upgrades in years: A new charging port — via CNBC.

And that’s a wrap! Don’t forget to share this newsletter with your family and friends! See y’all next week. PEACE! ☮️

— Sheharyar Khan, Editor, Business Tech @ HackerNoon

All rankings are current as of Monday and may change by the time of publication. To view the latest ranking, visit HackerNoon’s Tech Company News Pages.

This article was originally published by Sheharyar Khan on Hackernoon.


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