Meta threatens to drop news from Facebook if Congress passes legislation bolstering small media

"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."

Updated: December 5, 2022 - 7:17pm

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Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is threatening to drop news from the platform entirely should Congress pass a bill that would enable small media organizations to band together when negotiating with Big Tech.

The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act would grant small news outlets an exception to anti-collusion regulations, allowing them to jointly negotiate with major platforms. The bill would create a temporary, four-year window in which outlets could "collectively withhold content from, or negotiate with, an online content distributor regarding the terms on which the news content of the news content creator may be distributed by the online content distributor."

While the JCPA specifically bars any such coalitions from excluding groups based on size or political leaning, it has drawn scrutiny from Republicans who fear the plan would disproportionately benefit legacy media groups. The JCPA does allow these groups to exclude organizations that propagate misinformation or hate speech.

Meta spokesman Andy Stone on Monday voiced the firm's opposition to the plan, saying that if it passes, 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."

"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," he continued.

Opponents of the bill fear the plan, introduced by Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, will find its way into a must-pass defense bill that would push it through the lame duck session of Congress, the Washington Examiner reported. Said bill is already mired in a dispute over the existing vaccine mandate in the armed forces, with some Republicans withholding their support from the plan to secure the mandate's termination.

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