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Meta Considers Cutting News from Platform

Business

Meta Logo on Phone Screen and Facebook Logo in Background | Image by Shutterstock

Facebook may soon choose to ditch the news aspect of its platform in response to proposed federal legislation.

Meta Platforms Inc., formerly Facebook, announced that it was exploring the likelihood of removing all published content from its flagship platform if Congress passes a bill that would obligate tech companies to pay for the material that news outlets publish.

The bill Meta is concerned with is the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2022 (JCPA).

The JCPA was originally introduced to the Senate in March 2021 by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who suggested the bill could allow news organizations to negotiate better prices for their news content.

If passed, the bill would allow for the creation of a four-year safe harbor from antitrust laws for print, broadcast, or digital news companies to collectively negotiate with social media companies regarding how their news content is distributed on the platforms.

At the end of November, the JCPA moved out of committee and was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders.

Meta spokesman Andy Stone took to Twitter to provide a statement on the JCPA.

“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 said in an official statement.

On the other hand, Sen. Klobuchar argues that social media companies are raking in record profits while more traditional media companies are being forced to close.

“In one quarter, Google made $66 billion in ad revenue while newspapers and little radio stations folded left and right,” said Klobuchar. “We’re just simply trying to get a fair price for content.”

However, Meta believes that the connection between publishers and social media creates more of a symbiotic relationship versus one that is parasitic on the other.

The JCPA “fails to recognize the key fact: publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves because it benefits their bottom line — not the other way around,” Meta explained.

“No company should be forced to pay for content users don’t want to see, and that’s not a meaningful source of revenue,” the statement continued. “Put simply: the government creating a cartel-like entity which requires one private company to subsidize other private entities is a terrible precedent for all American businesses.”

This wouldn’t be Meta’s first-time cutting news content from its platform due to legislation. In 2021, Meta (still Facebook at the time) blocked news in Australia from being published following the country passing similar legislation to the JCPA.

Although Meta temporarily shuttered the news in Australia, it eventually struck a deal with three independent Australian news publishers and restored news to the platform shortly after.

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