Meta’s retiring from the newsroom

Like a jaded and world-weary beat reporter who’s seen too much, Meta wants out of the news game.

What happened: Meta announced that it wouldn’t sign any more deals with news publishers in the U.S., Australia, U.K., France, and Germany. 

  • Meta will honour existing agreements with publishers, but won’t renew them once they expire.

  • It will also shut down the Facebook News feature in the U.S. and Australia, something it already did in the U.K., France, and Germany last year.

Catch up: Under pressure from regulators, Meta had entered into agreements to pay select news companies in all of the countries impacted by the announcement. 

  • How much Meta paid under most current deals isn’t public information, but one outlet owned by News Corp (which has a deal with Meta) said current agreements in Australia alone are worth AUD$250 million (CAD$220 million) per year.

Why it matters: Meta wants nothing to do with news and politics, which spells trouble for any news businesses that have grown dependent on the tech giant for either traffic or financial support through the deals Meta is now nixing.

  • “We know that people don’t come to Facebook for news and political content,” Meta wrote in the blog post announcing the changes, adding that only around 3% of the Facebook feed is made up of news.

In Canada: News hasn’t been available on Meta’s platforms since last summer when it scrubbed Facebook and Instagram of news in response to the Online News Act, which attempted to force Meta to pay Canadian publishers.

What’s next: Australia’s government says it’s looking into ways to challenge the decision, but it’s difficult to see what leverage they have when Meta has made it clear they have no problem blocking the news on their platforms altogether.—TS