Bipartisan Bill ‘Honest Ads Act’ Seeks To Regulate Political Ads On Social Media

| October 20 , 2017 , 12:31 IST

United States Senate lawmakers on Thursday unveiled the first major legislative effort to increase transparency in online political advertising and to regulate online platforms that sell ads with rules akin to those that apply to more traditional advertising on TV, radio and in print. 

The bill, introduced by Democrats Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar, with a bipartisan boost from Republican Senator John McCain, known as Honest Ads Act imposes regulations on social platforms, websites, ad networks and other online entities with more than 50 million unique users per month.

The Honest Ads Act would require online platforms like Google and Facebook to include disclosures identifying the purchasers of ads, maintain a “public file” of ads about candidates and issues of national importance, and prevent political influence funded by foreign nationals. The bill seeks to apply these to any entity that spends a cumulative $500 on online ads during an election cycle. The bill also places a ‘reasonable expectation’ on social media companies to identify if the source of an ad buy is outside the U.S.

According to Senator Klobuchar – “Google, Facebook & Twitter paid political ads are seen by millions of people. If a candidate or a cause buys an ad on TV, the same rules should apply if they buy it on Facebook or Google or on Twitter”

This Bill is clearly a response to the overwhelming amount of Russian-funded political ads that ran on Facebook, Twitter, and Google during the 2016 election.

The Introduction of the Bill begins will Russian attempts at influencing the US Presidential Elections “Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election by buying and placing political ads on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. The content and purchaser(s) of those online advertisements are a mystery to the public because of outdated laws that have failed to keep up with evolving technology. The Honest Ads Act would prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite.”

Facebook, Twitter, and Google are expected to appear in an open hearing before the House and Senate’s intelligence committees on November 1.

Click here to view the full 'Honest Ads Act'