France’s AFP sues Twitter for allegedly refusing to pay for news

3 Aug 2023

Image: © Victor Velter/

AFP wants Twitter to pay for its news content being shared on the platform, but Elon Musk called the decision ‘bizzare’.

France’s Agence France-Presse (AFP) is pursuing legal action against Twitter – now known as X – to receive payment for news content shared on the platform.

The international news agency said it has filed an “urgent injunction” with the Judicial Court of Paris. The purpose is to make Twitter provide the necessary data for “assessing the remuneration owed to AFP” under European law.

The EU’s neighbouring rights directive gives news publishers the right to get compensated for when their content is shared by other platforms. France was the first country to bring this directive into national law in 2019.

“The Agency will continue to employ the appropriate legal means with each relevant platform to ensure the fair distribution of the value generated by the sharing of news content,” AFP said in a statement.

Twitter’s owner Elon Musk responded to the claim and called it “bizarre”.

“They want us to pay them for traffic to their site where they make advertising revenue and we don’t!?” Musk said in a tweet.

Other companies have faced issues in recent years for refusing to pay French news outlets for displaying their content. In 2021, France’s competition authority hit Google with a €500m fine for failing to comply with orders to engage with news publishers in the country.

Last year, the search giant reached a new agreement to pay French publishers for the the right to display their news content online. Meta also reached a similar agreement in 2021.

Pourquoi pas Canada?

These same companies are currently locked in a dispute with Canada over the country’s Online News Act. This new act will essentially make companies like Meta and Google have to pay media outlets for content being shared on sites like Facebook.

As a result of this, Meta recently began cutting off news access on Facebook and Instagram for users in Canada. In an recent blogpost, Meta said the legislation “misrepresents the value news outlets receive when choosing to use our platforms”.

“The legislation is based on the incorrect premise that Meta benefits unfairly from news content shared on our platforms, when the reverse is true,” Meta said. “News outlets voluntarily share content on Facebook and Instagram to expand their audiences and help their bottom line.

Google also threatened to remove links to news organisations in Canada from its Search, News and Discover products, in response to the new act.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic