META has threatened to remove news from its platform if the US Congress approves a proposal aimed at facilitating news organizations’ collective bargaining with companies such as Google and Facebook.
Sources familiar with the matter said lawmakers are considering adding a press competition law to a bill that is reviewed annually and must be adhered to by multiple platforms, as a way to help the ailing local news industry.
Meta spokesman Andy Stone said in a tweet that the company would have to consider removing news if the law was passed: “Rather than submit to government-imposed negotiations that unfairly ignore the value we provide news outlets by increasing traffic and subscriptions.”
He added that the proposal reflects the lack of knowledge of the organizers that publishers and broadcasters put content on the platform because it “benefits them financially and not the other way around.”
The News Media Alliance, a trade group representing newspaper publishers, is urging Congress to add the bill to a defense bill, arguing that “local newspapers cannot afford several more years of big tech companies using and misusing their content.” “The time for action is diminishing. If Congress does not act soon, we risk allowing social media to become the de facto local American newspaper.”
More than 20 groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Knowledge, and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, have urged Congress not to pass the local news bill, claiming that it “Will create an exception for publishers and broadcasters from antitrust laws.”
A government report said a similar Australian law, which went into effect in March 2021 after talks with big tech companies led to a brief shutdown of Facebook news feeds in the country, has been largely successful.
The report added that since the media negotiation law came into force, several technology companies, including Meta and Alphabet, have signed more than 30 media deals to compensate them for content that has had significant financial and advertising returns.