Facebook and Instagram face a possible news ban in California should state legislators pass a bill aiming to force the companies to pay for content.
The California Journalism Preservation Act, or CJPA, is a bill that is set for a vote in the State Assembly this week. It would impose a “journalism usage fee“ on large tech firms, which could then be used to fund newsroom journalists through arbitration.
Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, has threatened to pull news from the platforms in California if the act passes.
“If the Journalism Preservation Act passes, we will be forced to remove news from Facebook and Instagram rather than pay into a slush fund that primarily benefits big, out–of–state media companies under the guise of aiding California publishers,” Meta spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement.
The move echoes similar threats made by the company in other parts of the world. Australia passed a law last year requiring social media giants to pay for content in the country, and in response, Facebook banned sharing and viewing news stories within days. However, the ban was soon reversed after international pressure.
In the United States, Congress is considering a similar law called the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act. The bill was pushed through the Judiciary Committee last term, but failed to pass due to disagreements about amendments. Meta made similar threats related to the JCPA.
The CJPA, like many other legislative attempts to rein in the power of big tech companies, has been met with controversy. Proponents argue it will level the playing field between major tech firms and struggling journalists and news outlets. However, opponents argue it is a government overreach, as it could force private companies to pay for content against their will.
The CJPA needs to be approved by the Assembly and Senate before it is sent to the Governor for his signature. A signature would mean Tech giants would be forced to negotiate payment agreements with news outlets in California. The outcome of this heated debate is yet to be seen.