Tech Giants Google and Meta Make Moves Impacting California News Ecosystem

Google tests removing California news links over CJPA, impacting publishers and echoing Meta's news retreat.

By Athena Xu

4/12, 16:43 EDT

Key Takeaway

  • Google plans to remove links to California news sites in response to the CJPA, affecting its investments and partnerships in the state's news ecosystem.
  • Meta is distancing itself from the news business, impacting publishers reliant on social media for traffic and ad revenue.
  • Publishers face significant challenges due to these tech giants' shifts, with some experiencing up to a 99% drop in social traffic.

Google's Response to CJPA

Google has announced a plan to remove links to California news websites from search results for some users in the state. This decision comes as a reaction to the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), a bill that would mandate online advertising companies to pay fees for linking state residents to news sources. Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s Vice President of Global News Partnership, criticized the bill in a blog post, stating it introduces "a level of business uncertainty that no company could accept." Google describes its action as a "short-term test" and has also paused further investments in the California news ecosystem, including new partnerships through Google News Showcase and planned expansions of the Google News Initiative.

Meta's Shift Away from News

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has been gradually retreating from the news business. This shift has significantly impacted online publishers that relied on Facebook and Google for traffic, especially those dependent on advertising revenue. Meta's decision to "deprecate" its Facebook News tab in European countries and to ban Canadian users from sharing news on its apps follows a series of public relations challenges related to misinformation and political content. The company's move away from news is attributed to a desire to better align investments with products and services that users value most, according to a Meta spokesperson.

Impact on Publishers

The withdrawal of Meta from the news business and Google's potential adjustments in response to CJPA have had a profound effect on news publishers. Publications like Mother Jones have experienced a dramatic drop in traffic from Facebook, with a 99% decrease in Facebook referrals since its peak. The overall social traffic from Facebook to news and media websites has significantly declined, affecting publishers' ability to circulate stories to Facebook's vast user base. This change has forced publishers to adapt and seek alternative ways to attract traffic, with some focusing on diversifying their sources of distribution beyond social media platforms.

Management Quotes

  • Jaffer Zaidi, Vice President of Global News Partnership at Google:

    "The bill, called the California Journalism Preservation Act, represents 'the wrong approach to supporting journalism' and 'would create a level of business uncertainty that no company could accept.'"