Meta has threatened to remove news content from Facebook in the US over a proposed law that would give news organisations greater power to negotiate fees for content shared on Facebook.
The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) is introduced in Congress by Senator Amy Klobuchar – a Democrat from Minnesota – and has bipartisan support.
It provides publishers and broadcasters greater powers to collectively bargain with social media companies for a larger share of ad revenue.
But Meta has different set of arguments with a claim that Facebook, in fact, provides increased traffic to struggling news outlets. Publishers put their content on Facebook because “it benefits their bottom line”.
However, media companies are of the opinion that Meta generates huge sums of money from news articles shared on the platform.
Local news in particular struggled during the pandemic, as Meta made huge profits.
In a counter argument, Meta says this narrative is wrong. Instead, it is Meta which drives traffic to news sources.
“If Congress passes an ill-considered journalism bill as part of national security legislation, we will be forced to consider removing news from our platform altogether,” Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said.
Meta also argues that sharing news on Facebook accounts for only a fraction of its revenue.
A similar Australian law, which took effect in March 2021, led to a brief shutdown of Facebook news feeds in the country.
The company quickly reversed the decision after wide-ranging criticism – brokering a deal with the Australian government.
In a statement about Australia’s proposed law last year, a spokesperson for Meta said, “For Facebook, the business gain from news is minimal. News makes up less than 4 percent of the content people see in their News Feed.”
The US legislation is part of a larger set of laws aimed at tackling the dominance of Big Tech.
Supporters of the JCPA say social media will become America’s “de facto local newspapers” if the act doesn’t pass.
Matt Stoller, Director of Research at the American Economic Liberties Project, said media outlets were being “eaten alive” by Meta.
“Meta’s efforts to blackmail Congress prove again why this monopoly is a threat to democracies worldwide,” he said.