“WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain and two Democratic senators will move on Thursday to force Facebook, Google and other internet companies to disclose who is purchasing online political advertising, after revelations that Russian-linked operatives bought deceptive ads in the run-up to the 2016 election with no disclosure required.
But the tech industry, which has worked to thwart previous efforts to mandate such disclosure, is mobilizing an army of lobbyists and lawyers — including a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s campaign — to help shape proposed regulations. Long before the 2016 election, the adviser, Marc E. Elias, helped Facebook and Google request exemptions from the Federal Election Commission to existing disclosure rules, arguing that ads on the respective platforms were too small to fit disclaimers listing their sponsors.”
They bring tears to my eyes. Here are some critical comments I support.
ChristineMcM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 2 hours ago
“And, in the weeks leading up to the introduction of the Klobuchar-Warner-McCain bill, Facebook told congressional aides that it is too difficult to figure out if an ad is political or commercial because candidates are often changing messages and topics. The company added that with the sheer number of ads on the site, the engineering involved in identifying political ads would be extremely challenging.”
Sure. Very challenging to their bottom line. I think social media companies should be subject to the same disclosure rules as TV ads, revealing the source behind the ad if not the funding (we can thank Citizens United for that one).
I listened to Cheryl Sandberg responding to critiques at a forum about online truth in advertising, and found her to be both patronizing and insincere–all that talk about “transparency” from the most nontransparent company around.
Bottom line is Facebook, Google and lesser companies won’t change their wild west communication culture unless forced–and they know what following strict FEC laws will cost them, an amount they’re simply not willing to pay.
Their excuse such disclaimers would “stand in the way of innovation” makes me gag–why don’t they just come out and say it, “stand in the way of profits”?
They also know that forcing transparency as the senators propose is probably the last thing this administration–which prospers by falsehood–is interested in.
Erik New York 2 hours ago
Time for these companies to own up to the fact, that they are, at least in part, responsible for the whole Trump presidency debacle. We need to know how it happened so we can take steps to make sure nothing like this happens again. We are all paying for their lack of diligence and greed.
JDH NY 2 hours ago
The WWW is no longer the Wild Wild West. FB and the other carriers of information to the general public have willingly become the modern Trojan Horse. The refusal to see the merits of regulation, including disclaimer rules, as a means to protect the public from propagandist use of the platform, is based on one thing and one thing alone. Greed. The argument that regulation would “stand in the way of innovation” has no merit. Until these companies take their responsibility to the public seriously, we will be vulnerable to a large percentage of that public making choices based on information presented to manipulate. The reasons for political advertising regulation have been well thought out and to say that the internet’s presentation of that advertising is any different is disingenuous at best.