Meta threatens to ban news on Facebook if Congress passes pro-publishers bill
Meta Platforms Inc. has issued a warning that it will remove all news from Facebook platform in the United States if Congress passes a legislation that is aimed to support publishers to negotiate payment schemes with the tech companies.
“If Congress passes an ill-considered journalism bill as part of national security legislation, we will be forced to consider removing news from our platform altogether rather than submit to government mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions,” Meta tweeted on Monday as it condemned the bill, known as the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act.
Facebook’s statement followed a recent change in which the news-oriented legislation was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill focused on national security, according to people familiar with the matter, as mentioned by The Wall Street Journal.
“A lot has changed since we signed deals three years ago to test bringing additional news links to Facebook News in the U.S.,” said a Facebook spokeswoman. “Most people do not come to Facebook for news, and as a business it doesn’t make sense to overinvest in areas that don’t align with user preferences,” she said.
The U.S. bill, that is in question, would create a “baseball style” settlement process that would “enable smaller publishers to negotiate for compensation when technology giants such as Facebook and Google use their content”. Small, local news organizations feel they “don’t have the size or resources needed to negotiate with the much larger tech companies”. On the other hand, large national outlets, such as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, would not be covered by the bill, although newspaper networks and TV station groups can benefit from the bill. The legislation amends an earlier proposal called the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, “which would allow publishers to band together to negotiate compensation from online platforms that use their content, including Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s without violating antitrust laws”.