Meta Warns It May Remove US News Content

Image credit: US Senate

Facebook owner warns American Congress it may remove US news from its platform if it passes “ill-considered journalism bill”

Meta Platforms has reacted strongly after US officials seek to copy a similar law that was enacted in Australia over a year ago.

Meta threatened on Monday to remove US news from its platforms if the US Congress passes a proposal aimed at making it easier for news publishers to negotiate collectively with companies like Alphabet and Facebook.

US lawmakers are reportedly considering adding the “Journalism Competition and Preservation Bill” to the US annual defence bill, in order to help the struggling local news publishers.


Meta warning

But Meta has issued a strongly worded warning to US lawmakers about the “ill-considered” Journalism Competition and Preservation Bill.

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.”

He added the proposal fails to recognise that publishers and broadcasters put content on the platform because “it benefits their bottom line – not the other way around.”

The Journalism Competition and Preservation Bill has its supporters and detractors.

Reuters reported that the News Media Alliance, a trade group representing newspaper publishers, is urging Congress to add the bill to the defence bill, arguing that “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.”

But equally there are those who oppose the move.

Reuters reported that more than two dozen groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Knowledge and the Computer & Communications Industry Association on Monday urged Congress not to approve the local news bill saying it would “create an ill-advised antitrust exemption for publishers and broadcasters”.

They also argued the bill does not require “funds gained through negotiation or arbitration will even be paid to journalists.”

Australian law

Both Alphabet and Meta previously clashed with Australian officials when they passed the ground breaking law back in 2020 and 2021.

The Aussie media bargaining law legally forced tech giants to pay local publishers and broadcasters for any news and other content they utilise, or even link to, on their platforms.

Facebook in September 2020 bluntly warned it was a bad piece of legislation and told Aussie users it would prevent them sharing local and international news on its platforms (including Instagram), if Australia pressed ahead with this change.

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

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’.

Google meanwhile after some protests, pressed ahead with its own agreements with local publishers, as part of its ‘News Showcase’ scheme, after previously removing Australia from the scheme.

Last week an Australian government report said its media bargaining law had largely worked.

Since the News Media Bargaining Code took effect, various tech firms including Meta and Alphabet have signed more than 30 deals with media outlets, compensating them for content that generated clicks and advertising dollars, the report added.