Safeguard our elections with mandated online political ad disclosure
Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, began testifying to Senate Judiciary Committee about the Cambridge Analytica data leak and questions on privacy, ad targeting, and the impact on our elections. One simple step toward safeguarding our elections is to require social media platforms to disclose political ads. Campaign advertising requirements have not been substantively updated since the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, when Internet advertising was still in its early days. Consequently, the millions of American voters who were targeted by Russian political operatives on Facebook, Twitter and Google to influence the outcome of the 2016 US elections were unaware of who was behind the political advertisements they were seeing, how they were being targeted, or the scope of Russian advertising influence on the electorate.
Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA) and John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the bipartisan Honest Ads Act (S. 1989/H.R. 4077) to update standards for political advertising and reduce the potential for foreign interference in future elections. Let’s help get it passed!
What you can do
- Contact your US House Rep and Senators Hatch and Lee and ask them to support the bipartisan Honest Ads Act to safeguard our elections.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (202) 224-5251 (DC) // (801) 524-4380 (SLC) // (801) 375-7881 (Provo) // (435) 634-1795 (St. George) // (801) 625-5672 (Ogden) // (435) 586-8435 (Cedar City)
Sen. Mike Lee 202-224-5444 (DC) // 801-524-5933 (SLC) // 435-628-5514 (St. George) // 801-392-9633 (Ogden)
Rep. Rob Bishop (Congressional District 1): 202-225-0453 (DC) // 801-625-0107 (Ogden)
Rep. Chris Stewart (Congressional District 2): 202-225-9730 (DC) // 801-364-5550 (SLC) // 435-627-1500 (St. George)
Rep. John Curtis (Congressional District 3): (202) 225-7751 (DC) // (801) 851-2500 (Provo)
Rep. Mia Love (Congressional District 4): (202) 225-3011 (DC) // 801-996-8729 (West Jordan)
More about the Honest Ads Act
This bill would mandate that all online ads include a disclosure statement identifying the ad as a political one. The bill would also require that platforms running online political ads build and maintain public databases of these ads. The databases would include images of ads as well as information about the buyer, linked organizations, cost, and targeting. Furthermore, online platforms would be required to make “all reasonable efforts” to ensure political ads are not being purchased by foreign citizens or governments, just as radio and television broadcasters must already do. The new rules would apply to online platforms with more than 50 million active users, organizations buying political ads with a total value of over $500, and ads for both specific candidates and for legislative issues of national importance.
The Honest Ads Act is not a sufficient standalone response to Russia’s election interference in 2016, but it is a reasonable and necessary first step in safeguarding our democracy, informing our electorate, and ensuring campaign disclosure rules reflect the rapidly changing landscape of advertising and online media.
[Modified from 5 Calls]