May 10, 2018

After Release of Thousands of Facebook Ads Used by Russian Trolls to Influence the 2016 Election, Klobuchar Calls for Action on the Bipartisan Honest Ads Act

The Honest Ads Act would help prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online have the same transparency and disclosure requirements as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite

WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee, today released the following statement on the release of approximately 3,400 Facebook ads used by Russian trolls to influence the 2016 election. The Honest Ads Act would help prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online have the same transparency and disclosure requirements as ads sold on TV, radio, and print. Klobuchar introduced the bill in 2017 with U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

“It’s been 548 days since the 2016 election and Americans finally have access to the thousands of Facebook ads that Russian actors purchased to influence their vote. Americans not only have the right to know who is paying to influence them, they also deserve to know in a more transparent and timely manner. Instead of waiting for Congress to release the ads - or counting on major platforms to voluntarily release this information - Congress should step up and get the Honest Ads Act passed to ensure that all major platforms that sell online political advertisements are held to the same rules of the road.”

Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election by buying and placing political ads on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and GoogleThe content and purchaser(s) of those online advertisements are a mystery to the public because of outdated laws that have failed to keep up with evolving technology.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 print.

The Honest Ads Act enhances the integrity of our democracy by improving disclosure requirements for online political advertisements by:

  • Amending the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002’s definition of electioneering communication to include paid Internet and digital advertisements.
  • Requiring digital platforms with at least 50,000,000 monthly viewers to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications purchased by a person or group who spends more than $500.00 total on ads published on their platform. The file would contain a digital copy of the advertisement, a description of the audience the advertisement targets, the number of views generated, the dates and times of publication, the rates charged, and the contact information of the purchaser.
  • Requiring online platforms to make all reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate.

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