According to reports, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is threatening to remove all news content from the Facebook social media platform if Congress approves the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA).
The JCPA is a bipartisan bill that, if passed, will allow publications with less than 15,000 full time employees to negotiate ‘pricing, terms and conditions’ on how their content is distributed on major tech platforms.
On Monday, Meta Communications Director Andy Stone tweeted that they will be forced to remove all news content from both their Facebook and Instagram platforms.
The full statement reads, “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, The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act 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.”
It adds, “No company should be forced to pay for content users don’t want to see and that’s not a meaningful source of revenue. 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.”
The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act was first introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, and Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, last year.
It would create an antitrust exemption allowing news organizations to collectively bargain for payment from companies distributing their stories online.
Klobuchar touted the bill as a way for local news outlets to ‘level the playing field with online platforms’ as she announced that the bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in September.
She explained that the “local news is facing an existential crisis, with ad revenues plummeting, newspapers closing, and many rural communities becoming “news deserts” without access to local reporting.”
Klobuchar continued, “To preserve strong, independent journalism, we have to make sure news organizations are able to negotiate on a level playing field with the online platforms that have come to dominate news distribution and digital advertising.”
“Our bipartisan legislation ensures media outlets will be able to band together and negotiate for fair compensation from the Big Tech companies that profit from their news content, allowing journalists to continue their critical work of keeping communities informed,” she added.
The bill follows similar legislation in Australia passed last year, which has resulted in social media sites and Google paying news organizations, both large and small, more than $140million.
Now, the New Zealand government is set to follow suit, announcing over the weekend that it will introduce a law requiring Google and Meta to pay media companies for local news content.
‘New Zealand news media, particularly small, regional and community newspapers, are struggling to remain financially viable as more advertising moves online,’ Minister of Broadcasting Willie Jackson said in a statement.
‘It is critical that those benefitting from their news content actually pay for it.’
Meta executives are firing back, arguing that the bill wrongly interprets how the platforms rate to local news. They claim that their social media sites provide the local news with further revenue streams.