The new law would give news organizations in the US more power to negotiate compensation for the use of their content on platforms such as Facebook and Google. Meta says it will set “a terrible precedent.”
The bill, known as the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), aims to make it easier for news publishers to collectively negotiate with big tech companies like Facebook parent Meta and Google's Alphabet for a larger share of ad revenue.
The legislation was proposed by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and received bipartisan support. It is intended to help struggling local media and could be adopted by the end of the year if added to a must-pass annual defense bill.
Meta has threatened to remove US news content from Facebook if the "ill-considered" bill passes.
"We will be forced to consider removing news from our platform altogether rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations," Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said in a statement.
He said publishers and broadcasters put their content on Facebook "because it benefits their bottom line – not the other way around."
Meta argues that news sharing accounts for only a tiny part of its revenue and that it shouldn't pay for content users don't want to see.
"The government creating a cartel-like entity which requires one private company to subsidize other private entities is a terrible precedent for all American businesses," Stone said.
Meta claims that Facebook is, in fact, helping struggling news outlets by bringing them increased traffic and subscription.
But Matt Stoller, director of research at the anti-monopoly American Economic Liberties Project, said that "the JCPA offers a vital lifeline to media outlets that are being eaten alive by Big Tech's business model."
He said: "Meta's efforts to blackmail Congress prove again why this monopoly is a threat to democracies worldwide."
The News/Media Alliance, which represents 2,000 American newspaper publishers, urged Congress to pass the JCPA by adding it to the defense bill. It said Meta's threat to take down news is "undemocratic and unbecoming."
A similar law took effect in Australia last year. In response, Meta suspended Facebook news feeds in the country but quickly reversed the decision and agreed to negotiate deals with local media outlets.
In a legislation review released last week, the Australian government said the law "has been a success to date," with Meta and Alphabet signing over 30 commercial agreements with news businesses since it was enforced.
New Zealand said this week it would also introduce a law that requires big digital platforms to pay for local news content that appears on their feeds.
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