Meta Threatens to Remove News from Facebook and Instagram Over California's Journalism Preservation Act

 Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has issued a statement warning that it may remove news content from its platforms if California's Journalism Preservation Act is passed into law. The bill would require big tech companies to pay a "journalism usage fee" when distributing local news content. Meta argues that the legislation favors out-of-state media companies and fails to acknowledge that publishers and broadcasters willingly share their content on its platforms. The company claims that substantial consolidation in California's local news industry occurred before the widespread use of Facebook.

Meta asserts that if the Journalism Preservation Act is enacted, it would rather remove news from Facebook and Instagram than contribute to what it considers a "slush fund" benefiting primarily large media companies outside of California. The company believes that California lawmakers are prioritizing the interests of national and international media organizations over their own constituents.

The proposed legislation aims to tax advertising profits generated by platforms when distributing news articles. Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, the bill's sponsor, argues that it could provide much-needed support to struggling local news organizations that have faced a decline in advertising revenue. Wicks highlights the downsizing and closure of community news outlets as online news consumption has become more prevalent.

Danielle Coffey, the executive vice president of the News Media Alliance trade group, criticizes Meta's threat to remove news content from its platforms, describing it as undemocratic and unbecoming. Coffey accuses Meta of employing similar tactics in the past. The statement reflects the ongoing tension between big tech companies and media organizations regarding the distribution and monetization of news content.

The conflict between Meta and proponents of the California Journalism Preservation Act illustrates the contentious relationship between big tech companies and the news industry. While Meta opposes the bill, arguing that it benefits out-of-state media companies and overlooks the voluntary sharing of content on its platforms, supporters of the legislation view it as a potential lifeline for struggling local news organizations. As discussions continue, the outcome of the bill and its potential impact on the distribution of news content in California remain uncertain.