Meta steps up lobby against Fake News bill

meta fake news bill
Photo: TY Lim/Shutterstock

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp — three of Brazil’s four most popular social media platforms —, has recently intensified its lobbying efforts against Brazil’s so-called “Fake News Bill,” which intends to curb misinformation and is expected to go to a House floor vote within two weeks.

On Thursday, Meta resorted to an aggressive advertising campaign against the bill with page-long ads in Brazil’s most prominent newspapers, claiming that the legislation would jeopardize “your neighborhood’s food joint.” Meta tries to push forward its claim that regulation of online ads will raise marketing costs for small firms and run them out of business — if the law were to pass, platforms would be made liable for user-sponsored content.

In Brasilia, lobbyists representing Meta approached senior lawmakers to once again ask for modifications to the draft bill. 

Besides highlighting the strains the proposal would allegedly place on online ads, Meta said it would expose people’s private data by forcing WhatsApp to trace users who sent bulk messages through the app. Members of Congress argue the measure is necessary to identify those responsible for misinformation campaigns.

Last week, Meta-owned companies co-signed a letter against the Fake News Bill, alongside Google, Twitter, and e-commerce giant Mercado Libre. They claim the bill “is no longer about fighting” disinformation, but rather “represents a threat to the free, democratic, and open internet that we know today.”

“Fears of a flood of lawsuits will lead platforms to act less in moderating content, leaving the online environment more unprotected from hate speech and misinformation,” they say.