Meta Issues Thinly Veiled Threat to Ban News in California

Meta could soon ban users from sharing news articles on Facebook and Instagram, according to a statement from the Silicon Valley tech giant regarding a proposed bill in California.

The California Journalism Preservation Act, introduced by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, would require social media companies like Meta to pay a portion of the profits earned from media circulation directly to those publications in a effort to “preserve and ensure the sustainability of local and diverse media,” the bill states. Those publications would then have to use 70% of the revenue they receive to pay their staff.

The state Assembly passed the bill on Thursday. It will now go to the state Senate for another vote, then to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk if it passes there.

in a statement Shared by Meta spokesman Andy Stone on Twitter, the company almost threatened to remove news articles entirely from Facebook and Instagram if the bill passes.

“It is disappointing that California legislators appear to prioritize the best interests of national and international media companies over their own constituents,” the statement said, following a comment that revenue from the bill would primarily benefit “big media.” communication from out of state. companies” instead of local publishers.

Meta claimed in its statement that local media outlets have been in decline since “long before Facebook was widely used,” and that publishers publish content on the company’s platforms on their own account.

“This is not a threat, just a decision we will have to make that legislators need to be aware of when considering this bill,” Stone said in a separate tweet.

In response to Meta’s statement, LA Times reporter and Media Guild of the West president Matt Pearce published a statement of the California Federation of Labor announcing their support for the Journalism Preservation Act.

“Like all workers, the work of journalists produces value,” the statement said. “[…] But if that value is unfairly captured by third-party technology websites rather than news publishers that employ journalists, these workers cannot negotiate a salary that reflects their true economic productivity. Meanwhile, newsroom jobs keep disappearing.”

Wicks told a hearing last month that local news outlets have been “reduced and closed at an alarming rate” following the surge in online news consumption, Fortune reported.

“Dominance-type platforms, both search engines and social media, have such unmatched market power that newsrooms are forced to share the content they produce, against which tech companies sell advertising with almost no profit. compensation,” he said at the hearing, according to La Fortuna.

Two newspapers close in the United States every week, according to a report issued by Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications last year. The report finds that 70 million Americans live in a county with one or no local news organization, and that the country’s newspapers employ about 31,000 journalists, up from 75,000 in 2006. Annual revenue for newspapers is also increased. plummeted during this time, from $50 billion to $21 billion.

At the national level, Congress is considering a bill called the Journalism Preservation and Competition Act, which would allow smaller news publications to form joint entities that could then decide the parameters for how platforms like Meta share their work, thereby which would ultimately allow them to receive payments from larger platforms.

In 2021, Meta briefly banned Australian users from posting news content after the country passed a law requiring companies to pay local media for their news coverage. ban lifted after a few days after the changes to the law made by the Australian government.