Publisher groups call on Facebook over news labelling

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Seven media associations representing more than 20,000 publishers around the world have expressed concern over a Facebook policy that labels quality news as political advocacy and includes such content in its political ad archive.

The groups are the American Society of News Editors, the European Publishers Council, the News Media Alliance, WAN-Ifra, Digital Content Next, the Association of Magazine Media and the Society of Professional Journalists.

In a letter to Facebook, they say the most recent attempt to address vulnerabilities on the platform will undermine journalism and its role as the fourth estate and legitimise anti-journalism narratives around the world. The groups are calling on Facebook to immediately exempt news organisations from this new policy.

The groups have written to Facebook "strongly encouraging" it to exempt news organisations from its new policy to label and archive political advertising. They suggest three alternatives, while stressing that they are not relieving Facebook of its responsibility for the problems it created.

NMA president and chief executive David Chavern say the new policy could do irreparable harm to the newsmedia industry. "We are collectively proposing a workable solution for all."

WAN-Ifra president Michael Golden says 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".

ASNE president Alfredo Carbajal, who is managing editor of Al Día at the Dallas Morning News says equating legitimate fact-based news packages with political content "will not only hurt independent watchdog journalism, but also confuse a society that is being bombarded with content created to advocate for ideological factions in detriment of the truth".

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