Why You Might Stop Seeing Canadian News in Your Feeds

The Online News Act, or Bill C-18, may change how you share and discover journalism

A photo of a person holding a smartphone showing multiple social media app icons.

In the next few months, it might become hard to find articles from The Walrus online.

To try to shore up the struggling news industry, Canada recently passed a new piece of legislation, Bill C-18, or the Online News Act, to “level the playing field” between media organizations and large tech companies.

According to the federal government, more than 470 news media outlets have closed in 335 communities across the country since 2008. And revenue for broadcast TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines fell by nearly $6 billion between 2008 and 2020. The act is meant to be a way for large digital platforms to share their revenue with news organizations; in other words, the platforms would pay news organizations when they use their content and distribute their links.

The legislation has had its share of critics. And some tech companies have come out against the act, which is expected to take effect in about six months. Calling it a “link tax” and arguing that their platforms help marshal traffic to news sites, these companies have stated their plans to block Canadian news from their platforms.

What would this look like? Many of us get our information from search engines and social media networks. You’ve probably seen or shared stories by The Walrus on different feeds or come across our journalism while searching for information about the environment, health, the arts, or politics. In the case of some social media sites, it may mean that users won’t be able to post a link to a news story. Or, in searching for information about a specific topic, a user might not see our related stories.

As it’s still unclear how this might impact the media industry in Canada as well as The Walrus, we will be monitoring the situation. The Walrus believes that a healthy society relies on informed citizens, and preserving journalism is preserving democracy. During historic times of turmoil, it’s vital that Canadians have access to independent national long-form media they can count on and trust. We will continue to regularly publish journalism online, here at thewalrus.ca. To avoid missing an article, sign up for our free weekly newsletter and check our site for new stories.

The Walrus Staff