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Meta says a bug briefly blocked news for Canadian users on Threads

Meta has fixed a bug that temporarily prevented some Threads users in Canada from reading and sharing news on the app, a company spokesperson told Engadget. Even though Meta pulled news content from Canadian users’ Facebook and Instagram feeds earlier this year, the block hasn’t carried over to Threads.

But a number of Threads users wondered if that had changed when they began to see alerts that suggested otherwise. “People in Canada can’t view this content,” a notice with Threads branding read. “Content from news publishers can’t be viewed in Canada in response to Canadian government legislation.”

It’s unclear how widespread the bug was or how long it was happening. Reports of the issue seemed to crop up on Monday, with some users still unable to view links as of Tuesday morning. “Well… that sucks. @meta is escalating their news blocking in Canada, previously only on Facebook and Instagram, now on Threads,” Pedro Marques wrote in Monday.

Screenshot via Threads

A Meta spokesperson told Engadget that the Online News Act’s framework doesn’t apply to Threads, at least for now. Still, the fact that the notice appeared at all has prompted speculation that the company could eventually block news content on Threads as well.

Over the last few years, the world’s largest tech companies have tussled with countries about paying for news. In 2021, for instance, Facebook stopped people in Australia from sharing news links, while Google to stop showcasing content from Australian news publishers on Google News. Both companies, however, eventually reached agreements and agreed to start paying Australian news organizations.

In August, Meta news on Facebook and Instagram in Canada in response to the country’s Online News Act that requires platforms to pay news organizations to make up for lost advertising revenue. Google, which had earlier pledged to block news links in the country, eventually the country’s government and agreed to pay Canadian publishers around $100 million a year, to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Though Meta has downplayed the significance of news on Threads — Instagram head Adam Mosseri said earlier this year the company didn’t want to “” on the platform — blocking news on Threads could have a more dramatic impact on Threads than it has in Instagram and Facebook. The app has grown to about users as more people look for Twitter alternatives.

Blocking news, though, could make the app a lot less useful for users and publishers, who have started to see from the service. “How will Threads replace Twitter when I can’t even click on a news story in Canada without getting blocked by Meta,” a Threads user named dexter after encountering the bug.

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