Nieman Foundation at Harvard
Are you willing to pay for Prepare to be asked before year’s end
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
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.

Show tags
Join the 60,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Are you willing to pay for Prepare to be asked before year’s end
The cable news network plans to launch a new subscription product — details TBD — by the end of 2024. Will Mark Thompson repeat his New York Times success, or is CNN too different a brand to get people spending?
Errol Morris on whether you should be afraid of generative AI in documentaries
“Our task is to get back to the real world, to the extent that it is recoverable.”
In the world’s tech capital, Gazetteer SF is staying off platforms to produce good local journalism
“Thank goodness that the mandate will never be to look what’s getting the most Twitter likes.”