B.C. Pulls Ads Off Facebook and Instagram, Sort Of

The B.C. government is aligning with the federal government, Quebec and other news media to withhold advertising on Facebook and Instagram, in the ongoing news fight over the newly-minted Online News Act.

Premier David Eby criticized Meta’s decision, emphasizing the essential role of local media content in the tech giant’s business model. Eby told CTV News, “Meta’s decision to cut off that access is totally unacceptable,” he said.

Meta’s decision is in reaction to the passing of the federal government’s Online News Act, or Bill C-18, which mandates tech companies like Meta and Google to reimburse Canadian news outlets for using their content. The new law is slated to become by the end of the year.

The federal government suspended all advertising on Facebook and Instagram last week in response. In contrast, Google, although having also hinted at the possibility of blocking Canadian news, has remained in negotiation about the implementation of the law, and so far has not seen any advertising boycotts.

Others pulling back Meta ads include the Quebec government, the Toronto Star, CBC, Postmedia, and Bell Media.

Eby reassured citizens that vital health and safety information would continue to be advertised on Meta’s platforms. He emphasized the importance of using every available tool to relay critical information during emergencies, what he called a “limited exception”.

“We will only advertise on Meta to provide the public with critical information related to public health and safety emergencies – especially as B.C. is experiencing one of the worst wildfire seasons on record,” said Eby. Slightly wishy-washy, but this just goes to show social media advertising is one way to relay safety information to the masses.

While the province continues to advertise on Google, Eby stated they would update their advertising policy “as the situation evolves,” mirroring the federal government’s approach.

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