The Instagram page of Humber News, a platform managed by journalism students at Humber College, has been banned for viewers in Canada. This abrupt ban has erased the hard work of students.
Bill C-18, formally known as the Online News Act, is a piece of legislation that aims to regulate digital platforms serving as intermediaries in Canada’s news media landscape.
The Online News Act requires digital companies to pay news organizations when users access news articles through links on their platforms. The government argues this revenue-sharing is necessary to support Canadian journalism, which has suffered as advertising revenue moved to online platforms.
Tech giants like Google and Meta, Facebook’s parent company, view this law as a tax on links and believe it doesn’t consider the value they provide to news outlets. Meta will now identify news publishers and broadcasters based on certain criteria outlined in the law and limit viewers from watching it. The outlines are producing news of public interest, employing journalists in Canada, and operating in Canada.
While it states this change would only affect Canadian media outlets as of Sept. 22, people can’t access any news accounts including The New York Times and Arab News, neither based in Canada.
Student-run news sites operate on a volunteer basis. The Eyeopener, a Toronto Metropolitan University student-run news site, and Humber News do not come under the outlines but are blocked.
Charlene Hatcher, a second-year journalism student at Toronto Metropolitan University, said much of the student’s work is not paid.
“We are trained in media journalism,” she said. ” So how would we navigate it? How do we demonstrate our skills to employers?”
As news disappears on platforms like Instagram, it becomes evident that the digital age presents opportunities and challenges for aspiring journalists. In an era where information is readily accessible online, the ban raises questions about the role of social media in disseminating news and the responsibilities of online platforms.
Priya Verma, a fourth-year student journalist at the University of Guelph-Humber, said that the platforms’ decisions “sucks because, as student journalists, we don’t get much exposure, and when we post it online, it’s our way to show our work, especially in a competitive industry such as journalism. It’s harder for you to convince people to take an extra step to read your work.”
Humber Journalism Professor Mike Wise said although Instagram was not the best platform due to its inability to embed links, students still used it to post content. However, it’s not something that will be taught as social media platforms cannot be trusted.
“We are teaching students that when you’re developing an economic model on a private platform, you always run the risk of losing distribution,” he said.
Wise said media outlets should instead seek their audience through channels they can control.