Call Your Members of Congress · Elections · Ethics · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms

Call Your MoCs and Support the Honest Ads Act, Which Requires Internet Companies to Reveal Who Paid for Election-Related Ads on Their Platforms

Support the Honest Ads Act, a bill that would require Internet companies, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google, to reveal the names and identities of anyone who spends at least $500 on election-related ads on their platforms.

 

We are learning more and more about how ads on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms and Internet sites might have affected the outcome of the 2016 election.

 

Current finance campaign law requires television and radio stations to maintain lists of those who purchase a certain amount of political advertising time. Because the law dates to 2002, it does not cover social media platforms or websites.

 

Lack of mention of digital media permitted a loophole in the law that allowed Facebook to sell roughly $100,000 worth of political ads to Russian customers between 2015 and 2017 without having to maintain a list of buyers.

 

It should be noted that as of mid-February 2018, only Facebook has volunteered any information of this nature.

 

Requiring social media platforms and websites that have audiences of at least 50 million to keep public lists of people and organizations that buy at least $500 in political ads makes sense, and it makes campaign finance law apply equally to old media and new. The legal update will also help fight attempts by Russia and other bad actors who try to sow discord and undermine our democracy.

 

Two versions of the bill exist–one in the House (H.R. 4077, sponsored by Democrat Derek Kilmer of Washington state) and one in the Senate (S. 1989, sponsored by Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota). Both have the same name, and both were introduced in October 2017.

 

Right now, the Govtrack pages for each reflect a Skopos prognosis of a five percent chance that they will pass. Let’s do what we can to improve those odds.

 

Sample script for your MoCs: “Dear (Senator/House Rep Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname from town, zipcode.) I am asking you to support (S. 1989/H.R. 4077), the Honest Ads Act. It would require any social media platform or website that has 50 million viewers or more to maintain public lists of people and organizations that buy at least $500 in political ads. This represents an update to existing campaign finance law that was enacted before the Internet became dominant, and makes the law apply equally to old media and new media. It will also help us fight foreign bad actors who want to manipulate our elections and undermine our democracy. The bill was introduced in October 2017 but hasn’t moved forward since. Please support this bill and help shepherd it through the legislative process.”

 

 

See the GovTrack pages for S. 1989 and H.R. 4077, the Honest Ads Act:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr4077

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/s1989

 

 

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