Meta threatened to pull news from Facebook if Congress passes legislation meant to help local and conservative news outlets compete with Big Tech companies.
The tech giant’s intervention comes as its critics hope to use the lame-duck session of Congress to pass the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, a bill written by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) that would allow small and conservative outlets to band together in negotiations with Big Tech without running afoul of anti-collusion rules.
If Congress passes the act, Meta would “be forced to consider removing news from our platform altogether rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions,” Meta spokesman Andy Stone tweeted Monday.
The bill’s opponents fear that the act will be attached to a must-pass defense spending bill, allowing it to be enacted before the end of the year.
The statement arrived months after Facebook updated its news feed to emphasize personal content over news content.
Stone said the bill fails to recognize that “publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves because it benefits their bottom line — not the other way around. No company should be forced to pay for content users don’t want to see, and that’s not a meaningful source of revenue. Put simply, the government creating a cartel-like entity which requires one private company to subsidize other private entities is a terrible precedent for all American businesses.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the act to the floor in September but has not yet received a vote in the full chamber.
Several technology and public interest groups advocated removing the act from any pending legislation. The bill would “compound some of the biggest issues in our information landscape and do little to enable the most promising new models to improve it,” a coalition of 27 public interest and trade groups told Congress on Monday.