Facebook said it plans on spending at least $1 billion over the next three years to help the news industry, with company VP Nick Clegg saying in a blog post on Wednesday “we absolutely recognize quality journalism is at the heart of how open societies function.”
The announcement comes as Facebook has been caught in the middle of a debate on whether tech giants should pay news outlets for their stories. In response to potentially new laws in Australia, Facebook recently blocked all Australian users from sharing news articles — a decision the company later walked back on Monday after reaching an agreement with the Australian government.
“After further discussions with the Australian government, we have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers,” said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of global news partnerships.
Wednesday’s $1 billion pledge offered few details on how Facebook plans on helping news outlets. The company said it had already spent $600 million since 2018 to “support the news industry,” and pointed to deals with outlets like The Guardian and Financial Times, as well as other local and regional publishers, that pay for content that’s shared in the United Kingdom. Facebook added that it’s “active negotiations” with outlets in Germany and France as well.
Moving forward, it’ll be worth seeing if American politicians push for Facebook to compensate news outlets in the U.S. A bill similar to Australia’s proposed law has been floating around for more than a year. The “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act,” introduced in the House in April 2019, would allow publishers to collectively negotiate with tech companies over their content. The bill has the support of the News Media Alliance and its roughly 2,000 member organizations, but to this point hasn’t gained momentum to get across the finish line. Millions of Americans rely on Facebook as a primary news source. A 2019 Pew survey found 43% of Americans get their news from Facebook.