October 31, 2018

Klobuchar Statement on Facebook’s Approval of False Disclaimers for Online Political Ads

Klobuchar is the author of the bipartisan Honest Ads Act, which would increase transparency and accountability for political ads 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) issued the following statement after Vice News published a story about their reporters’ experiences in buying political ads on Facebook. The reporters found that while Facebook’s transparency tool required them to verify their identification and U.S. addresses before they could buy ads, once they were verified, the reporters were able to post divisive ads and lie about who paid for them.

“Americans have a right to know who is behind political ads that are designed to influence our democracy, and platforms like Facebook have a responsibility to ensure that the ads they sell have accurate disclaimers about who paid for them,” Klobuchar said. “While I appreciate Facebook’s work to increase transparency, it is clear that they need to take stronger action to prevent the posting of fake ads. This report also highlights why we must pass the Honest Ads Act which would require strong disclaimer and disclosures for online political ads and impose penalties against those who fail to comply.”                                    

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 The content and purchaser(s) of those online advertisements are a mystery to the public because of outdated laws that have failed to keep up with evolving technology.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, which is sponsored by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ), 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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