Facebook’s parent company Meta warned Monday that the social media giant could remove news from its platform if Congress signs off on a proposal that would make it easier for news organizations to bargain collectively with tech giants.
In a bid to rescue the lagging local news industry, lawmakers are considering adding the proposed Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to a must-pass annual defense bill that could help smaller news outlets fight for a larger share of revenue from companies like Google and Meta for their news content, sources briefed on the matter told Reuters.
But a Meta spokesperson threatened that the legislative move could lead to prohibition of news being shared on the social media site “rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions.”
Spokesperson Andy Stone also argued in a statement posted on Twitter the bill fails to understand the key fact of the proposal that “publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves because it benefits their bottom line – not the other way around.”
He additionally said the proposed bill would set a “terrible precedent for all American businesses” because it would create a “cartel-like entity which requires one private company to subsidize other private entities.”
A trade group that reps newspaper publishers, the News Media Alliance, is lobbying Congress to add the bill to the defense spending plan. The group insisted “local papers cannot afford to endure several more years of Big Tech’s use and abuse, and time to take action is dwindling.
“If Congress does not act soon, we risk allowing social media to become America’s de facto local newspaper,” the group said.
US Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a major backer of the bill.
“We’ve seen a startling erosion of local papers in the country,” she said in a recent interview with the Seattle Times.
“Google and Facebook are worth over $1 trillion combined … Literally the revenue has changed hands. Yes, everyone’s online, but the content providers, the reporters, should be compensated for the work that they do and it shouldn’t be given away to these mega companies that are dominant platforms.”
But more than two dozen groups, including the ACLU, advised Congress not to approve the measure because they believe it would “create an ill-advised antitrust exemption for publishers and broadcasters” and warned the revenue from negotiation or arbitration does not require that it goes toward journalists.
With Post wires