Facebook’s empty news threats

A man passes a Facebook screen at the Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. (Martin Meissner/Associated Press)

Facebook’s empty news threats

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House and Senate negotiators are close to adding the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to the National Defense Authorization Act this week. Facebook’s parent company Meta wants you to believe it would be the end of the world.

“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 spokesman Andy Stone tweeted Monday.

If this threat sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is. But this isn’t the first time Meta has made the threat. Before Australia passed a similar law in 2021, Facebook issued a similar statement and actually tried to follow through…for nearly a week, until the company caved.

Stone says that, “No company should be forced to pay for content that users don’t want to see.” But the reality is that Facebook users want news and Facebook produces zero news. Facebook needs journalists, they just don’t pay them for the news they produce.

Facebook, and Google, currently exploit monopolies in online advertising that deprive publishers of revenues that are rightly theirs. For every dollar spent advertising online, Google and Facebook keep about half. This is why, although traffic to news sites is up 40% since 2014, their revenues are down 58%.

All the JCPA does is allow small publishers, like the Washington Examiner, to band together and bargain with Big Tech giants on an equal footing.

Would the JCPA mean less revenue for Facebook, more revenue for people who actually produce news, and less control for Facebook moderators? Absolutely. Some of us just happen to think those are all good outcomes.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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