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May 31, 2023, 2:41 p.m.
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Sarah Scire   |   May 31, 2023

You may have heard a thing or two about California’s Journalism Preservation Act, modeled after similar (but ultimately unsuccessful) legislation. While some news outlets have come out in favor of the proposal targeting tech company use of news content, others in the industry have called the bill “fundamentally flawed” and likely to benefit newspaper chains while overlooking smaller newsrooms in the state.

One particularly outspoken — if unsurprising — opponent? Meta, which threatened Wednesday to remove news from Facebook and Instagram in California if the act passes. Spokesperson Andy Stone tweeted the statement:

“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 guise of aiding California publishers. The bill fails to recognize that publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves and that substantial consolidation in California’s news industry came over 15 years ago, well before Facebook was widely used. It is disappointing that California lawmakers appear to be prioritizing the best interests of national and international media companies over their own constituents.”

The bill had passed an important committee hearing earlier this month with bipartisan support. One capitol correspondent noted California lawmakers are likely to vote on the act this week.

Like similar legislation passed in Australia and under consideration in Canada, California’s Journalism Preservation Act would require Meta and Google to share revenue with the exact amounts going to media companies determined through an arbitration process.

It’s not immediately clear what “removing news from Facebook and Instagram” in California would look like. But when Meta made good on a similar threat under similar legal circumstances in Australia, Facebook restricted publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing any Australian and international news content.

As Joshua Benton noted at the time: “Even people outside Australia can no longer share stories from Australian publishers big and small, from the Sydney Morning Herald all the way to the Goondiwindi Argus.” (Facebook ended up reversing the ban.)

Facebook made a similar threat in response to pending legislation in Canada. Google, which also opposes the legislation, ran tests that blocked news in some Canadian searches earlier this year.

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