In a dramatic standoff between tech giants and the news industry, Mark Zuckerberg hasthreatened to block all news articles in California from Facebook and Instagram if a proposed bill, known as the California Journalism Preservation Act, is passed.
NPR reports that Facebook (now known as Meta) has threatened to block all news articles in California from its main platform and Instagram if a proposed law known as the California Journalism Preservation Act is passed, sparking the latest standoff between tech giants and the news industry.
This legislation aims to impose a tax on the advertising revenue that tech platforms generate from the distribution of news articles, with the majority of the money going toward supporting local newsrooms.
Essentially, the California Journalism Preservation Act would tax the advertising revenue that platforms generate from disseminating news content. The so-called “usage fee” would fund newsrooms across the state to the tune of about 70 percent of the money collected.
Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, a Democrat who represents Oakland and is sponsoring the bill, commented: “As news consumption has moved online, community news outlets have been downsized and closing at an alarming rate.”
Facebook claims that local news publishers would not benefit as much from the legislation as out-of-state websites would. “If the Journalism Preservation Act passes, we will be forced to remove news from Facebook and Instagram, rather than pay into a fund that primarily benefits big, out-of-state media companies under the guise of aiding California publishers,” said spokesman Andy Stone.
Similar conflicts occurred in Australia and Canada in the past, where tech companies resisted being forced to compensate news publishers. Before ultimately reaching agreements with news publishers, Facebook temporarily blocked news articles in Australia due to a similar policy.
The California law’s detractors are concerned about unintended consequences like the chance that dishonest people will game the system or that clickbait headlines will be promoted. Despite these reservations, some think that forcing Big Tech to bargain with news publishers could offer the sector of journalism a fresh, dependable source of income.
“Such deals will not ‘save the news’ industry, but they could contribute a new, reliable stream to support news,” said John Wihbey, journalism professor at Northeastern University. “I hope that social platform companies can see it in their interest to support the underlying democratic societies that, after all, are the bedrock of their commercial markets.”
On the California assembly floor, the measure will be put to a vote. It is anticipated to pass and advance to the state Senate.
Read more at NPR here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan
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