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Facebook Inc. has struck partnerships with three Canadian publishers, including The Globe and Mail, to expand a platform that sees the social network pay for news content.

As part of an initiative to ensure its 24 million Canadian users have access to reliable, authoritative news, Facebook has added The Globe, Glacier Media Inc. and Black Press Group Ltd. to a multiyear partnership called the News Innovation Test. Facebook launched the project in May with 14 domestic publishers and plans to begin supplying content in September.

New initiative will see Facebook pay 14 Canadian media outlets for content

“This project has enormous value to Facebook users looking for news,” said Kevin Chan, the company’s global director and head of public policy in Canada.

He said the Menlo Park, Calif.-based technology firm decided to pay for third-party content because “Facebook is part of the news ecosystem.”

Under the agreement, Facebook pays publishers for the right to offer users links to content on specific topics, initially including coverage of the pandemic and climate science. The agreement allows Canadian news organizations to determine whether Facebook users must subscribe to their publications in order to access their stories. News organizations can also sell advertising around content provided to the social network’s users.

“We are very pleased to add Facebook to our roster of global strategic partners as we continue to build on our digital transformation,” said Phillip Crawley, The Globe’s publisher and chief executive officer.

“Through this agreement, we will be able to increase our share of voice on a global platform and give new audiences the opportunity to experience the value of The Globe’s award-winning journalism in their daily lives.”

The Globe also has content-sharing partnerships with Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Apple Inc.

Facebook is now paying for content from 17 Canadian publishers with operations across the country. News organizations that include Halifax-based SaltWire Network Inc., Montreal’s Le Devoir and Winnipeg-based FP Newspapers Inc. signed on to the concept in the spring. Facebook said its past collaborations with publications such as Le Devoir resulted in a fivefold increase in website traffic for the media outlet and significant increases in subscriptions.

Facebook and the publishers did not release the financial terms of the content-sharing partnership, citing confidentiality agreements. Facebook is also launching a similar program in the United States that includes linking users to content on diversity branded as “Lift Black Voices.”

In addition to the News Innovation Test, Facebook has pledged more than $18-million to support Canadian journalism in the past four years, including an $8-million, three-year commitment in March for programs such as fellowships with The Canadian Press.

A number of Canadian news organizations, as well as industry lobby group News Media Canada, are urging the federal government to follow Australia’s example and introduce industrywide measures that force technology companies such as Facebook and Google to pay for content. The Globe is a member of News Media Canada.

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault and his predecessors have consistently promised to introduce made-in-Canada policies that support domestic news organizations. However, the government has yet to table legislation or announce a detailed plan to support the industry.

Facebook’s Mr. Chan, who once served as director of the Office of the Clerk of the Privy Council, said the technology company is in talks with the federal government over policy options for news content. He said introducing content regulations similar to Australia’s in Canada would be “challenging, as the Australian model doesn’t reflect how the internet and Facebook work.”

In its home market, Facebook and other tech companies are lobbying against U.S. legislation that would allow news publishers to negotiate collectively with tech firms over revenue sharing and other deals.

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