Facebook threatens to remove news content if Congress passes bill helping publishers | US News

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Facebook has threatened to remove news content from its platform if Congress passes a bill which would make it easier for news organisations to negotiate deals collectively with tech giants.

US politicians are reportedly considering passing the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act as a way to help the struggling local news industry.

The bill would make it easier for news companies to negotiate collectively with internet giants such as Meta, which owns Facebook, and Alphabet Inc regarding the terms on which the news companies’ content may be distributed online.

Companies involved in news production argue that Meta generates huge sums of money through advertising revenue from news articles shared on the platform.

But Facebook owner Meta says the new proposals “unfairly disregards any value” Facebook provides through “increased traffic and subscriptions”.

Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said in a tweet the company would be forced to consider removing news if the law was passed.

He added the proposal fails to recognise that publishers and broadcasters put content on the platform because “it benefits their bottom line – not the other way around”.

In February last year, Australians were blocked from accessing and sharing news on Facebook following a row between Meta and the Australian government over payments for content.

Meta later backed down and agreed a deal with Australian lawmakers to pay for content following criticism.

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The News Media Alliance, a US trade group representing newspaper publishers, is urging Congress to pass the Journalism Competition and Preservation Ac, arguing that “local papers cannot afford to endure several more years of Big Tech’s use and abuse, and time to take action is dwindling. If Congress does not act soon, we risk allowing social media to become America’s de facto local newspaper”.

But groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Knowledge and the Computer & Communications Industry Association have urged Congress not to approve the local news bill saying it would “create an ill-advised antitrust exemption for publishers and broadcasters”.



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