Today, Facebook serves as many people’s primary information source. However, Meta vowed to remove all news from its primary social media site in a statement on Monday.  It was a blow across the bow that left many people perplexed. At the centre of it is a congressional law that Meta and Mark Zuckerberg believe undermines the value that the social media platform offers to news organisations.

The company’s policy-communications director, Andy Stone, issued the caution on behalf of the organisation, stating that Meta “would be forced to consider pulling news off our platform completely” if Congress passes the “ill-considered journalism bill.”

Media sites like this one that is writing on this bill and Meta’s response undoubtedly have certain biases built into them. However, a September 2017 Pew Research Center survey appears to undermine Stone’s claim that users don’t want to view the content. In that poll, it was discovered that over 48 per cent of American people indicated they “often” or “sometimes” get news through social media. And Facebook “outpaces all other social media platforms in terms of where Americans typically acquire news on social media.”

The history of news and social media

The way news is disseminated in the modern world has changed thanks to social media, and IT corporations were once partners and sponsors of news organisations. Facebook introduced a service called “Instant Articles” in 2015 that featured news from various outside sources on the site while providing those sources 100% of the ad money. However, Facebook recently revealed intentions to phase out that programme, claiming it will be totally discontinued by next April.

This has prompted news organisations to press lawmakers to require social media companies to charge for their material. In Australia, where Facebook (and others) were made to pay, that effort was successful. (After the bill was amended, Facebook reversed its decision to initially block access to news stories there.) The American bill isn’t the only one that Meta is keeping an eye on. Similar legislation is being considered in both Canada and New Zealand, which could put the social media giant on the hook for even more potential fines or news bans.

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