SAO PAULO - A Brazilian agency which sets the commercial rules of the advertising market has approved a resolution to classify tech companies like Google and Facebook as media companies, a move which could subject digital platforms to the same rules faced by other media.
Google and Facebook have long identified themselves as tech companies, instead of media, which would exempt them from responsibility for the content that users post.
Brazil's Conselho Executivo das Normas-Padrao (CENP), or Standard Norms Executive Council, said last month it recognises all legal entities receiving revenues from their "ability to transmit advertising messages" as Disclosure or Communication Vehicles for "the purposes of the legislation in force".
In its July 16 resolution, it lists for the first time "Internet-Search, Internet-Social, Internet-Video, Internet-Audio, Internet Display and Others" along with magazine and newspaper as Disclosure or Communication Vehicles.
By such definition, the vehicles would include the Google, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube platforms, said the Folha de S.Paulo news site.
"Whenever questioned by any competent, administrative or judicial authority, CENP will use the above consolidated listing of media/categories as to the recognition of the types of Disclosure or Communication Vehicles available in the Brazilian market to advertising agencies for advertising contracted by private and/or public advertisers," says the resolution.
Wan-Ifra, a global organisation of the world's press with 3,000 news publishing companies and technology entrepreneurs in its network, said CENP's initiative had the support of its member, the Brazilian Newspaper Association.
Although it is private, the CENP is cited in Brazilian law and recognised as qualified to certify the technical qualification of advertising agencies operating in the environment of the so-called Brazilian Advertising Model, said Wan-Ifra.
Mr Caio Barsotti, president of CENP, said the new resolution can help overcome compliance challenges.
"The international recognition that our advertising has is largely due to the competitive, fair, harmonious, transparent and safe operation of the Brazilian market," Mr Barsotti was quoted as saying by Wan-Ifra in its blog.
"All who work here are expected to participate in these principles and join those who have historically built the foundations of the ethical-business relationship. Symmetrical competition is synonymous with healthy competition."
Social media services, which allow users to read and share for free online news content these platform do not own, have been blamed for the decline of advertising and subscription revenues of traditional news media which have been struggling to maintain their resources for news reporting.
With over 2 billion users, Facebook has also been criticised for not doing enough to curb the spread of fake news and online misinformation campaigns on its platform. In survey findings published by Ipsos on June 12, the market research company said misinformation is woven deep within the fabric of social media, most notably on Facebook, where as many as two-thirds (67 per cent) report encountering fake news.
In April, EU governments backed a move launched by the European Commission two years ago to protect Europe's creative industries, which employ 11.7 million people in the bloc, forcing Google and Facebook to share revenue with these industries and remove copyright-protected content on YouTube or Instagram.
Under the new rules, Google and other online platforms will have to sign licensing agreements with musicians, performers, authors, news publishers and journalists to use their work.