Meta threatens to block news stories in California over new bill

Facebook and Instagram logos on a smartphone and Meta logo on a pc screen
(Image credit: SOPA Images / Contributor / Getty Images)

Meta will remove all news links from Facebook and Instagram in California if state legislators pass a bill that would tax the tech platform's advertising profits, a company spokesperson threatened on Wednesday.

The California Journalism Preservation Act hopes to tax the advertising profits companies like Meta or Google make from distributing news content. If passed, 70% of the tax revenue, dubbed a "usage fee," would be funneled back into newsrooms throughout California. The bill is intended "to seek compensation for publishers based on the value they create for technology platforms," The Wall Street Journal explained. "There is no cap on the size of publishers who can join the effort."

If the bill is signed into law, Meta "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," Andy Stone, a spokesman for the company, tweeted on Wednesday.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Danielle Coffey, executive vice president of the News Media Alliance, knocked Meta for threatening to pull stories in the state, noting that "the ailing news industry would benefit from having tech platforms pay their fair share," NPR summarized. "Meta's threat to take down news is undemocratic and unbecoming. We have seen [this] in their playbook before," Coffey said in a statement.

The tech giant's history suggests this is "not an empty threat," Axios wrote. In 2021, Meta pulled news content from Facebook in Australia in response to a similar law that forced platforms to pay publishers for news content. The ban was later reversed after the government changed the terms of the law. "News traffic in Australia plummeted in response to the short-term ban," Axios added.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Theara Coleman

Theara Coleman is a Staff Writer for The Week. A New York native, she previously served as a contributing writer and assistant editor for Honeysuckle Magazine, where she covered racial politics and cannabis industry news. Theara graduated from Howard University and New York University, receiving her BA and MA in English Literature, respectively. She has a background in education as a former High School English teacher. She brings her passion for reading, writing, and all things nerdy to her work as a journalist.