Taxes can serve a few purposes — they can help bring in more money to the government, and they can encourage people to do less of a particular behavior (and often they do both).
Toll lanes bring in revenue but also limit who is on them so that they’re a faster way to go. If you want fewer people to use a particular lane on the highway, tax it.
Taxes on cigarettes lower usage, with a 10% increase in cost reducing usage by 4-7%. If you want fewer people to smoke, increase taxes on cigarettes.
This concept also applies in situations where it’s an unfortunate (but easily predictable) outcome. Last month, Canada passed a law on website links. Yes, Google and Meta/Facebook now need to pay in order to link to news sites in Canada. And yes, it’s as dumb as it sounds.
Ok, no links allowed
Meta and Google made very predicable moves after this happened, and they blocked links to those news sites on their platforms. If the government want to charge for them, they’ll will save the money and just not allow users to link to them.
This is the same thing that happened in Europe over the past few years, so I have no idea why Canada decided to follow suit, because we all knew what would happen. Not only do the sites fail to gain this new revenue, they also lose a bunch of traffic that Meta and Google used to send them. It was a lose/lose situation from the moment it was suggested.
Oh, those wildfires?
The timing is particularly bad for Canada, as shared by users:
Like many in Canada’s Northwest Territories, Poul Osted has been relying on social media to keep in touch with loved ones as they scramble to evacuate from nearby wildfires.
But Mr. Osted said he has been left frustrated by his inability to share news articles on Facebook during the active emergency situation, due to Meta’s ban on news content for Canadian users.
Not only is this bad for users like Mr. Osted, but it’s bad for the publishers that it was meant to protect. Instead of getting them extra money, they instead just get less traffic and therefore less revenue, and people can’t share links that are important. The tax did what taxes always do, even if that’s not what the folks in Canada really wanted.
Check out more in the full story on Techdirt.