Facebook Inc. is facing more blowback for its decision to categorise the promotion of news articles as political content, with global publishers now urging Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to change its policy.
Seven trade groups representing media publishers and broadcast organisations in more than 120 countries including the New York Times, BBC.com and 21st Century Fox, sent a letter to Zuckerberg. They’re criticising the social media giant’s decision to place ads publishers buy to boost
exposure to their political articles in a public database alongside the ad information of political candidates.
“We see your policy as another step toward furthering a false and dangerous narrative that blurs the lines between real reporting from the professional media and propaganda,” the letter said. “Marketing our products, or subscriptions to our products, is not separate from our journalism or from press freedom.”
Under the new rules, any ads promoting political content — even news articles on politics and elections — will be placed in an archive that includes the identities of who’s paying for the ads and the demographics of who’s seen the ads for up to seven years. The archive began in the US, but Facebook has said it plans to expand the approach globally.
“Facebook must recognise the value of journalism created by independent news media companies and respect the critical role journalism plays in supporting societies across the world,” World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers president Michael Golden said in a statement.
The Menlo Park, California-based company first alerted publishers to the new rules last month following months of criticism over Russian operatives’ use of the site to influence the 2016 presidential election. Within hours of a Bloomberg News report on the initiative and the criticism from news organisations, Facebook said it would work with publishers to come up with a policy that distinguishes journalism from political advocacy.