Is Journalism Getting Caught In Facebook’s Political Drag Net?
This must have been a scene to behold. Yesterday during a Columbia Journalism School panel NY Times CEO Brad Thompson and Facebook’s Global Head of News Partnerships Campbell Brown verbally sparred while sitting inches from one another and even sharing the same mic. At issue was the NYT’s frustration over Facebook’s new political ad guidelines.
To appreciate what went down you need to understand the back story. In the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, FB has imposed a strict set of guidelines requiring anyone with a political connection to disclose who’s paying for an ad, with verification that the “paid for by” party is legitimate. The verification process FB has implemented is being described as tortuous by political agencies and consultants who can no longer get their ads on up FB (or Instagram for that matter) in a timely manner.
Right now you’re asking what does this have to do with the NYT? According to Brad Thompson his paper, and others in journalism, are being required to follow the same verification process for their ads even though they’re reporting on politics and not running political ads. In Mr. Thompson’s opinion this is blurring the line between legitimate journalism and bad actors who are trying to impersonate journalists with newsy-looking online ads. So by lumping the two groups together FB is effectively helping the perpetrators at the expense of real journalism.
The back and forth in this exchange, including the pulling out of FB invoices, played out like out like a boxing match. AdWeek has the blow by blow coverage in the attached link. Who knew all this action would have come from a sleepy journalism school panel discussion?!?