Understanding the California Journalism Preservation Act

Legislation is moving through California’s legislature that has irked Meta, formerly known as Facebook. The California Journalism Preservation Act requires social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to provide funds to local news outlets. NPR reports that the proposed bill would require tech platforms to pay for the advertising revenue they earn from sharing news articles, with around 70% of the amount going to support Californian newsrooms. The rationale behind the proposed law is that social media platforms have eroded the business models of traditional news outlets and are partly responsible for job losses at newsrooms across the US. In response, Meta has threatened to remove news from its platforms if the bill becomes law.

The bill’s text states that “journalism plays an essential role in California and in local communities, and the ability of local news organizations to continue to provide the public with critical information about their communities and enabling publishers to receive fair market value for their content that is used by others will preserve and ensure the sustainability of local and diverse news outlets.”

Meta spokesperson Andy Stone has stated that the company will remove news from Facebook and Instagram if the act passes. The bill’s requirement would mean that social media platforms will have to pay up or remove the news content. Critics have suggested that the threat is disingenuous, as the company has already reduced its news output over the years. The company also made similar threats to remove news content from its platforms in Australia when forced to pay for news. The Australian government and these tech companies later reached a deal, generating almost $150 million in revenue for news organizations.

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The California Senate has yet to vote on the proposed legislation. It remains to be seen whether it will reach a compromise, a successful outcome that could provide a path forward for newsrooms to thrive.

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