Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta platforms, which include Facebook and Instagram, have threatened to remove news content from their social media apps in California as a protest against a new proposed bill. The bill, known as the Journalism Preservation Act, would require big tech companies like Google and Facebook to pay news outlets for featuring their content on their platforms.
Under the proposed legislation, digital companies would be obligated to pay local news publishers a “journalism usage fee” whenever their news content is used or posted. Additionally, the bill stipulates that news publishers must invest 70 percent of the usage fee profits into journalism jobs.
Meta’s communications director, Andy Stone, criticized the bill, referring 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 voluntarily share their content on Meta’s platforms and that consolidation in California’s local news industry occurred prior to Facebook’s widespread use.
Stone further stated on Twitter, “If the Journalism Preservation Act passes, we will be forced to remove news from Facebook and Instagram, rather than pay into a slush fund that primarily benefits big, out-of-state media companies under the guise of aiding California publishers.”
In response to Meta’s threat, lawmaker Buffy Wicks condemned the company for attempting to “silence journalists” through scare tactics. She referred to Meta’s action as an “egregious” attempt to avoid regulation instead of supporting journalism.
The bill is scheduled for a vote in the California State Assembly, and it has garnered mixed reactions from the media community in California. The Media Guild of the West and Pacific Media Workers Guild have praised the bill, while Free Press Action, a non-profit media advocacy organization, has criticized it. The unions described Meta and Google as powerful landlords profiting from struggling news outlets, while Free Press Action argued that the bill would only benefit large conglomerates instead of supporting trustworthy local reporting.