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Meta Warns Of News Removal In California If Tech Companies Are Forced To Pay Publishers

Updated: Jan 4

[Edited] In a bold move, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has threatened to remove news content from its social media platforms in California if the state passes a bill that would require big tech companies to pay news outlets for their content.

Credit: Reuters

The bill, known as the Journalism Preservation Act, has sparked a heated debate between the tech giant and lawmakers.

Andy Stone, Meta's communications director, took to Twitter to express the company's concerns about the bill. He referred to it as "a slush fund that primarily benefits big, out-of-state media companies under the guise of aiding California publishers." Stone argued that publishers and broadcasters willingly share their content on Meta's platforms and that the consolidation in California's local news industry occurred long before Facebook became widely used.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, aims to hold digital companies like Google and Facebook accountable by requiring them to pay local news publishers a "journalism usage fee" whenever their news content is used or posted on these platforms. Additionally, the bill mandates that news publishers invest 70% of the usage fee profits into journalism jobs.

Wicks responded to Meta's threat, dismissing it as a scare tactic that the company has unsuccessfully employed in other countries. She criticized Meta, stating, "It's egregious that one of the wealthiest companies in the world would rather silence journalists than face regulation."

The bill is scheduled for a vote in the California State Assembly on Thursday, according to a spokesperson for Wicks. It has received support from prominent journalism unions in California, including the Media Guild of the West and Pacific Media Workers Guild. In a joint letter, these unions referred to Meta and Google as "powerful landlords overseeing an ever-expanding slum of low-quality information, happy to collect advertising rents from struggling tenants while avoiding paying for upkeep."

However, the bill does have its detractors. Free Press Action, a non-profit media advocacy organization, has criticized the bill, arguing that it does nothing to support trustworthy local reporting and instead benefits massive conglomerates by padding their profits.

The clash between Meta and California lawmakers highlights the ongoing struggle to find a balance between the power of big tech companies and the need to support local journalism. As the bill heads to the vote, the outcome will have significant implications for the future of news content and the relationship between tech giants and publishers.

  • Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has threatened to remove news content from its platforms in California if a bill requiring payment to news outlets is passed.

  • The bill, known as the Journalism Preservation Act, aims to hold tech companies accountable by requiring them to pay a "journalism usage fee" to local news publishers.

  • Meta argues that the bill primarily benefits out-of-state media companies and fails to recognize that publishers willingly share their content on their platforms.

Source: CNN

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