Facebook parent Meta Platforms said on Wednesday it would remove news content in its home state of California if the state government passed legislation forcing tech companies to pay publishers.
The proposed California Journalism Preservation Act would require "online platforms" to pay a "journalism usage fee" to news providers whose work appears on their services, aimed at reversing a decline in the local news sector.
In a tweeted statement, Meta spokesman Andy Stone called the payment structure a "slush fund" and said the bill would primarily benefit "big, out-of-state media companies under the guise of aiding California publishers."
The statement was Meta's first on the California bill specifically, although the company has been waging similar battles over compensation for news publishers at the federal level and in countries outside the United States.
In December, Stone said Meta would remove news from its platform altogether if the US Congress passed a bill that closely resembles the proposed California legislation.
The company is likewise threatening to withdraw news in Canada in response to proposed legislation there, along with Alphabet's Google, which has said it would remove links to news articles from Canadian search results.
The proposals are similar to a ground-breaking law that Australia passed in 2021, which also triggered threats from Facebook and Google to curtail their services.
Both companies eventually struck deals with Australian media companies after amendments to the legislation were offered, although the standoff prompted a brief shutdown of Facebook news feeds in Australia in the process.
An Australian government report released in December concluded that the law had largely worked.
Google did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment about the California bill.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
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