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Meta Threatens to Remove News from Facebook if Journalism Legislation Passes

Is this really about philosophy or is it about cutting costs?

Facebook parent Meta threatened to remove news from Facebook if Congress passes journalism legislation requiring tech companies to compensate news outlets for sharing news on their platforms, says CBS News. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act would give news outlets some bargaining power against tech companies like Meta and Google. Specifically, this journalism legislation would allow news organizations to collectively negotiate terms with social media platforms.

Through spokesperson Andy Stone, Meta called the proposed bill “an ill-considered journalism bill” that disregards the role social media platforms play in bringing readers to news sites and increasing news subscriptions.

Stone shared the following statement on Twitter Monday:

News Media Alliance comments on statement

Following Meta’s statement, News Media Alliance, who represents close to 2,000 news organizations, issued their own statement.

“Facebook’s threat to take down news is undemocratic and unbecoming. As the tech platforms compensate news publishers around the world, it demonstrates there is a demand and economic value for news. These threats were attempted before the Australian government passed a similar law to compensate news outlets, played out unsuccessfully, and ultimately news publishers were paid. The Australian law resulted in countless jobs for local journalists and $140 million to news outlets, which translates to billions in the U.S,” News Media Alliance said.

Not Facebook’s first pullback on news

This stance is consistent with Meta’s decision to stop paying publishers for news and pivot the company’s focus toward creators and the creator economy. Prior to this action, Facebook had been paying publishers including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Washington Post tens of millions of dollars for curated news articles published on the Facebook News tab.

“For a lot of us – this was a labor of love and I know it’s hard to see these products put on the backburner. These are products that have delivered tremendous value for our partners and our users,” Campbell said. “We remain committed to the success of creators, and are doing even more to ensure they can find audiences on Facebook and grow engaged communities there,” said Campbell Brown, vice president of media partnerships this summer.

Axios reports that the publishing deals were worth a total of about $105 million to U.S. publishers. A spokesperson for Facebook told Axios that a lot has changed since those original deals were made.

Insider Take

Meta’s position does not come as a surprise, but is it philosophy they are fighting about or are they trying to save money? Counting the showdown in Australia in 2021 and the company’s August pullback on news, this is the third time Meta has elected not to pay for news. In addition to feeling they are doing news organizations a favor, Meta is in the process of laying off more than 11,000 employees, representing 13% of the company’s workforce. At the time of the announcement, Meta CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg also said the company would be cutting costs and extending their hiring freeze. Meta is looking for ways to save money, not to spend more of it.

cropped view of businesswoman working with smartphone, laptop and newspaper at workplace in office
Source: Envato Elements

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