Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, will pull news from its platforms if California passes a bill mandating that tech companies pay publishers for their content, a spokesperson for the company said Wednesday.
The bill, known as the Journalism Preservation Act, would require companies to pay a “journalism usage fee” whenever they run ads next to news posts on their platforms. Publishers would be required to spend 70% of that revenue on newsroom payroll.
“If the Journalism Preservation Act passes, we will be forced to remove news from Facebook and Instagram rather than pay into a slush fund that primarily benefits big, out-of-state media companies under the guide of aiding California publishers,” Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said in a statement posted to Twitter.
“The bill fails to recognize that publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves,” Stone continued.
The bill was authored by Assembly member Buffy Wicks (D), who introduced it in March as a way to bolster the news industry, which has struggled while tech companies use their content to reap money from the digital advertising market.
“These dominant digital ad companies are enriching their own platforms with local news content without adequately compensating the originators,” she said when introducing the legislation. “It’s time they start paying market value for the journalism they are aggregating at no cost from local media.”
The bill has cleared two committee votes and will likely come up for a vote in the Assembly on Thursday, Wicks told The Washington Post.
She also responded to Meta’s threat on Wednesday, saying the company’s remark “is a scare tactic that they’ve tried to deploy, unsuccessfully, in every country that’s attempted this. It is egregious that one of the wealthiest companies in the world would rather silence journalists than face regulation.”
Meta also threatened to pull news content from Australia when the country proposed similar legislation. The bill passed there in 2021 and has been credited with providing an estimated $150 million annually to media outlets there.
Meta has also threatened to pull news from sites in Canada, which is considering similar legislation.