FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News Media Alliance Calls on Google, Facebook to Take Responsibility for Political Advertising
CEO Says Profits Drive Misinformation on the Internet
October 24, 2017
Arlington, VA – News Media Alliance President and CEO David Chavern today called upon online content distribution platforms – specifically Google and Facebook – “to make the same commitments as publishers and modernize their platforms to help stem the flow of misinformation—a problem that is largely of their own making.”
Chavern, who leads the association of print and digital publishers of original news content, made his remarks while testifying at a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Technology hearing that addressed “Oversight of Federal Political Advertisement Laws and Regulations.”
“While they have profited greatly from their immense market power, Google and Facebook have yet to accept the responsibility that comes with their position. Voters and consumers should no longer have to suffer from unreliable information because it is profitable, while producers of content continue to hold ourselves to a higher standard,” Chavern said.
Federal law requires political candidates and committees to disclose who authorizes and pays for their advertisements. Newspaper publishers have long taken an active role to ensure that proper disclaimers are made before publishing such ads. Some advertisements on the internet, however, are currently exempted from these rules. The Subcommittee invited witnesses to testify on whether laws or regulations around political advertising have kept up with the evolution of technology. Chavern called for the FEC rules to be updated, stating, “These rules apply to every other medium, and there is no longer a justification for exempting the Internet.”
He also called on Google and Facebook to update their business models so that high-quality, reputable content is elevated in search and news feeds. Google and Facebook are “de facto gatekeepers for internet users” and “readers are struggling with a current trend in which fake news and misleading advertisements are delivered in ways that are indistinguishable from fact-supported information with verifiable sources,” said Chavern. This proliferation of “fake news” and false or divisive advertising “undermines society’s knowledge base and public discourse vital for a healthy democracy.”
Chavern’s full testimony can be found here.
The News Media Alliance is a nonprofit organization representing nearly 2,000 news organizations and their multiplatform businesses in the United States. Alliance members include print, digital and mobile publishers of original news content. Headquartered near Washington, D.C., in Arlington, Va., the association focuses on ensuring the future of news media through communication, research, advocacy and innovation. Information about the News Media Alliance (formerly NAA) can be found at www.newsmediaalliance.org.
Members of the News/Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.