Meta to remove news from its platform if Congress passes media bill



WASHINGTON: Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, said on Monday that it would remove news from its platform if the US Congress passed a bill that would make it easier for news organizations to negotiate together with companies like Google and Facebook-owned by Alphabet Inc.

According to people who were briefed on the situation, lawmakers are thinking about including the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act in an annual defense bill that must be passed as a way to help the struggling local news industry.

“Rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions,” said Meta spokesperson Andy Stone in a tweet, “rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets.”

He added that the proposal does not take into account the fact that content is uploaded to the platform by broadcasters and publishers because “it benefits their bottom line — not the other way around.”

“Local papers cannot afford to endure several more years of Big Tech’s use and abuse, and time to take action is dwindling,” says the News Media Alliance, a trade group that represents newspaper publishers and is urging Congress to include the bill in the defense bill. We run the risk of allowing social media to become America’s de facto local newspaper if Congress does not act quickly.”

On Monday, more than two dozen organizations, including Public Knowledge, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union, urged Congress not to approve the local news bill, claiming that it would “create an ill-advised antitrust exemption for publishers and broadcasters” and that the bill does not require that “funds gained through negotiation or arbitration will even be paid to journalists.”

According to a government report, a similar law in Australia, which went into effect in March 2021 after talks with big tech companies caused a brief shutdown of Facebook news feeds in the country, has largely worked.

According to the report, a number of tech companies, including Meta and Alphabet, have signed more than 30 deals with media outlets to compensate them for content that brought in clicks and advertising revenue since the News Media Bargaining Code went into effect.

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