The attack on a Journalism Competition and Preservation Act as lawmakers weigh whether to attach it to must-pass legislation is nothing new.
The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act would be the first piece of legislation to seriously challenge the business model for social media giants, giving major journalistic organizations a cut of their ad revenue.
Google and Meta are spending money on two, contradictory messages in order to defeat the measure.
The JCPA is a legislative proposal tabled by the left, which is allegedly to “silence conservative voices.” The law is simultaneously a far-right effort to fund pro-Trump messages and their alleged source of “dangerous misinformation.
The exaggerated rhetoric was part of a campaign to stop any proposal to share advertising revenue, the main source of income for social media and search engine tech companies. The message designed to orchestrate Republican opposition is sponsored by NetChoice. And the message designed to whip up Democratic opposition is sponsored by the Computer and Communications Industry Association, who are funded by Google and Facebook’s parent company, Meta.
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Earlier this week, reports leak that sponsors of JCPA — including Sens. Amy Kloboutar, D-Minn.; John Kennedy, R-La.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa— had convinced Senate leaders to include the legislation in the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill failed on Friday after a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Silicon Valley’s campaign to secure the NDAA approval has yet to yield results and the bicameral bill has not been changed.
Since the NDAA appears to have fallen through, supporters of the JCPA are pushing for a potential deal to include the legislation in the omnibus spending package Congress will take up later this month.
The JCPA law, which was modeled off of an Australian law, would provide businesses that provide a public service the legal right to collectively bargain with Silicon Valley platforms for a monetary slice of the ad revenue they generate.
Proponents argue that Google and Facebook’s domination of the advertising industry has decimated traditional news business model. However, social media companies are raking in billions for the losses the latter experience were made, with Pew Research Center finding that U.S. newsrooms lost 30,000 positions since 2008. This number is likely much bigger now as newsrooms try to stay afloat amid a crisis.
Now with JCPA, Patreon has found a way to strike similar deals that have been successful in Australia. Sponsored content on their platform is earning big bucks and giving publishers more revenue than ever before.
One point of contention is what types of media outlets would qualify for a collective bargaining role and how negotiations might impact editorial content. One provision in the draft legislation from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, states that “the bill’s antitrust exemption only applies to discussions of pricing terms while explicitly excluding any discussions or agreements between Big Tech and content platforms or news outlets dealing with content moderation.”
The Australian bargaining law has been used to broker deals with large established newspapers and broadcasters, as well as some smaller publishers. The Australia Property Journal’s editor, Nelson Yap, told The Intercept that his publication was able to join a group of 24 local small publishers to negotiate a deal with Google for more audience and revenue. However, he noted that Meta refused to negotiate with the group of Australian publishers.
The tech industry gears up for a huge wave of legislative battles as a similar bill is currently being sought out in Canada.
With the news that net-neutrality-protecting legislation may be included in the NDAA, many nonprofits and left-wing organizations have expressed concern. With concern rising, these groups have been spreading the news in order to raise awareness so individuals can speak out against the support of this ill-considered legislation.
A Google trade group was established to advocate for liberal content. However, a website ran by the Center for Public Integrity said the new program is only designed to help “big media” providers and not small conservative outlets.
On Monday, a coalition of tech-funded nonprofits released a letter against the Conference of State Societies. They claim JCPA can make the internet an unsafe place by increasing the amount of hate speech and harassment that people encounter.
“I think it’s a lot of astroturfing,” said Jon Schweppe, the director of policy and government affairs at the American Principles Project, a right-leaning watchdog group warning against the influence of the tech industry. “These guys, the big tech companies are brilliant at doing both sides of this at once.”
Rumors were swirling on Monday that this would be the next victim of the social media giant’s latest attack against independent media. But before you get too wrapped up in all that, remember that this is not a choice for anyone involved.
If a site is providing fake news, then they are undermining the important principles that keep our democracy in check. From threatening the circulation of information to violating human rights and the foundation of democratic processes, fake news should not be tolerated.
In the end, Facebook, Google and other major tech companies decided to take part in negotiations with online publishers. They agreed to resume services in Australia.
It appears that Australia is experiencing the same tactics as the United States, as it too has seen some big tech propaganda against its News Media Bargaining Code.
“Facebook and Google have been free riding on the success of media publishers for years. The codes will address the unfair balance with tech giants, as they’ve done in Australia,” McDonald said. “It works there, and there’s no reason why it won’t work here.” Small publishers were able to secure a bargaining agreement with Google and were able to get a good deal.