Meta says it will block news on Facebook in California if recently advanced bill becomes law


California lawmakers advanced a bipartisan bill Thursday that would require Big Tech platforms to pay publishers for news they host, just a day after Meta threatened to remove news from Facebook and Instagram should the bill pass.

The California Journalism Preservation Act, which passed out of the state Assembly 46-6, still needs to be approved by the state Senate and signed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to become law. But if it makes it that far, it could create new challenges for tech platforms and possibly change the landscape of what information is available on social media sites in California versus the rest of the country.

"If the Journalism Preservation Act passes, we will be forced to remove news from Facebook and Instagram, rather than pay into a slush fund that primarily benefits big, out-of-state media companies under the guise of aiding California publishers," Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said in a statement on Twitter Wednesday. "The bill fails to recognize that publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves and that substantial consolidation in California's local news industry came over 15 years ago, well before Facebook was widely used."

According to the text of the bill available on the state government website, the California legislation would require online platforms with at least 50 million monthly active U. S. users, a billion worldwide active users or U.S. net annual sales or market cap over $550 billion to pay a "usage fee" to eligible digital journalism providers who want it. Payments would be calculated based on the amount of each outlet's news products the platform displayed or linked to. The parties would use an arbitration process to come up with the percentage of the platform's advertising revenue that would make up the usage fee.

Chamber of Progress, a trade group that counts Meta among its backers, criticized the bill's advancement. The coalition's CEO Adam Kovacevich said in a statement, "the CJPA is riddled with holes" and the bill "includes a questionable arbitration process and supports hedge funds known for cutting news staff rather than hiring journalists."... (Read more)

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