Facebook is applying its new policy requiring labels for political ads too broadly, the News Media Alliance says in a letter sent to Congress Monday.
"We believe that the new policy sweeps within its scope materials that are not 'political ads' but are instead promotion of news coverage of political issues, and that thus the impact of the policy will jeopardize the news media’s ability to play its critical role in society as the fourth estate by improperly characterizing such news coverage as political advertising," the organization writes.
Facebook said in April that it would require labeling of political ads that refer to candidates, as well as "issue" ads, in an effort to combat foreign interference in elections. The policy was largely driven by concerns over what happened during the 2016 presidential election, when Russian operatives purchased ads on the social network. Facebook began implementing the new ad rules late last month.
The News Media Alliance -- which counts The New York Times, The Washington Post and Dow Jones among its nearly 2,000 members -- argues that the new rules go too far. "Facebook has hastily overcorrected with a system that throws any and all sources of content into a political advocacy archive," the group writes.
The organization adds that the labels could confuse consumers. "By conflating 'reporting' and 'politics,' Facebook is further contributing to the erosion of trust of the news media, and potentially reducing access to critical insights by depriving people from independently assessing and ultimately understanding key issues. Facebook is undermining the core outcome it is trying to strengthen."
The organization is asking Congress to hold hearings about the matter, and is renewing its call to allow news organizations to engage in collective bargaining with tech platforms.
"We are deeply concerned about this new policy to treat reputable news as political advocacy and we call upon your leadership to engage on this issue and to help us course correct what could be an irreparable moment in the history of news," the organization writes.