Meta Warns It May Pull News Content In California


Proposed California legislation to require online platforms to pay news publishers, but Meta says it may withdraw news in its home state

Meta Platforms has issued a stark warning to officials in its home state of California, over a proposed new law that mirrors one passed in Australia in 2021.

The Californian state government is considering legislation known as Assembly Bill 886, or the California Journalism Preservation Act, which would require social media platforms to pay a monthly “journalism usage fee” for work appears on their services.

The fee would be determined via an arbitration process – based on the social media platform’s monthly ad revenue.

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California Journalism Preservation Act

But Meta Platforms has threatened to remove news posts from California should Assembly Bill 886 become law.

Under Assembly Bill 886, any money raised would go into a fund for payments to the publishers that produced the content. Media companies would be required, under the proposed law, to spend at least 70 percent of that money on journalists and support staff.

Meta however is not pleased and spokesman Andy Stone used Twitter to post Meta’s warning to California officials.

Meta labelled the payment structure a “slush fund” that would primarily benefit “big, out-of-state media companies under the guise of aiding California publishers.”

Multiple fronts

Meta is already contending with similar efforts over compensation for news publishers, both in the US at a federal (i.e. nationwide) level, and in other countries.

In December it emerged that US lawmakers were considering adding the “Journalism Competition and Preservation Bill” to the US annual defence bill, in order to help the struggling local news publishers.

At the time spokesperson Andy Stone tweeted that Meta would be forced to consider removing news if the law was passed “rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions.”

Meanwhile in Australia, both Alphabet and Meta previously protested to local officials when that country sought to pass a ground breaking law back in 2020 and 2021.

The Australian government however took no notice of the protests from Meta and Alphabet, and pressed ahead with the legislation.

Facebook responded and then pulled all local and international news on its platforms (including Instagram) in Australia, before restoring it after the Australian government agreed to change parts of its ‘media bargaining law’.

Meta then made deals with news publishers in Australia, France and elsewhere as local laws have begun to be introduced.

Meanwhile Canada’s Online News Act is currently under legislative review.

Meta’s global policy director Kevin Chan said the social networking giant could similarly pull news sharing from Facebook in Canada to show its disagreement with a policy that “unfairly subsidises legacy media companies”.

Alphabet’s Google, has also said it would remove links to news articles from Canadian search results.