Meta condemns online news law

Lazy eyes listen


Meta has threatened to remove news from Facebook and Instagram in California if the state approves legislation requiring large platforms to pay a “journalism usage fee,” claiming that the proposal prioritizes the interests of giant media corporations over the interests of Californians.

On Wednesday, the social network corporation published its first public response to the proposed California Journalism Preservation Act, stating that Meta will be forced to pull news from its online platforms in the state.

“If the Journalism Preservation Act is passed, we will be forced to remove news from Facebook and Instagram rather than contribute to a slush fund that primarily benefits large, out-of-state media companies while ostensibly assisting California publishers,” he said.

According to Democratic California state Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, who sponsored the legislation, the journalism bill would compel fees from major platforms that host news from local outlets on their sites, as well as “require publishers to devote 70% of the proceeds to the maintenance and creation of journalism jobs in California.”

The law, according to the Meta spokesman, “fails to recognize that publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves,” and that “substantial consolidation in California’s local news industry occurred over 15 years ago, well before Facebook was widely used.” He went on to accuse California legislators of “prioritizing the best interests of national and international media companies over the best interests of their own constituents.”

Wicks, on the other hand, dismissed Meta’s promise to shut off news for its California subscribers, calling it “a scare tactic that they’ve tried to deploy, unsuccessfully, in every country that’s attempted this.”

“It is egregious that one of the wealthiest companies in the world would rather silence journalists than face regulation,” she said.

After a bill was floated in the US Congress that would have obliged platforms to pay to carry news content, the California-based firm issued a similar warning in 2022. It has had a similar reaction in recent years to equivalent plans in Australia and Canada, threatening national news blackouts in those nations. While Facebook did temporarily suspend hosting all news in Australia during a court dispute in 2021, the company later decided to comply with the law, which the government claims has resulted in dozens of revenue-sharing agreements with local media firms.