Facebook Inc Supports FEC Program To Make Political Ads More Transparent

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Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has told the U.S. government that it is in favor of new federal rules under which companies would be required to disclose more information about their online political advertisements. As per the comment filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Monday, the social networking giant also supports the need for greater transparency around the candidate-focused ads, according to Recode.

Facebook wants FEC to be open-minded

Facebook, however, said it would need more details on how it could comply with the transparency laws. The Mark Zuckerberg-led company also asked the FEC to be flexible about how the disclosures look, citing its recently announced decision to put a special icon on the political advertisements about federal candidates to help users have detailed information about them.

Talking of the steps that the company is taking internally, Facebook said, “These internal measures will apply only to advertising on Facebook’s platform, which could have the unintended consequence of pushing purchasers who wish to avoid disclosure to use other, less transparent platforms.”

By supporting many of these rules, the social networking sites will be guided by the same rules that are in place for broadcasters and newspapers as of now, notes Recode.

What do others say of FEC’s initiatives?

Google, in comments dated Nov. 9, said it “strongly supports” the FEC proceeding with rulemaking that makes political advertisers responsible. The search giant also suggested making changes in the Foreign Agents Registration Act so that an, “agent of a foreign principal who purchases digital ‘issue ads’ with the purpose of influencing the U.S. public on election or non-election matters would be required to identify themselves as part of the ad.”

The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) has also shown support for the FEC’s “exploration” of internet communications disclaimers. However, it noted that FEC should take a “cautious” and “flexible” approach to any possible new regulations. SIIA represents almost 700 software developers and digital content companies, according to Multichannel.

Twitter also filed comments with the FEC, talking about its plans to implement to update internal polices to ensure greater transparency on political advertisements.

Demands to expand disclosure requirements

Over 15 Democratic Senators want the FEC to review the rules related to the disclosures on the advertisements shown online and make it more transparent. After several months of investigations on Capitol Hill, politicians want to know the far-reaching effects of the online advertising carried out by sites such as Google, Facebook and Twitter.

In a letter sent to the FEC, Senate Democrats stated that the FEC does not require online political advertising to show disclaimers about the organizations backing the ads, and this has helped the Russians to disrupt the system and affect the elections, notes TechCrunch.

Back in 2011, Facebook asked the FEC for an exemption from the requirements stating that ads posted on the platform have a character limit, and therefore, the rule does not apply to them. At the time, the committee was split on the matter, and though Facebook didn’t get the exemption, it showed advertisements without disclaimers leaving it up to ad buyers to comply, according to Business Times.

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About the Author

Aman Jain
Aman is MBA (Finance) with an experience on both Marketing and Finance side. He has worked as a Risk Analyst for AIR Worldwide, and is currently leading VeRa FinServ, a Financial Research firm. Favorite pastimes include watching science fiction movies, reviewing tech gadgets, playing PC games and cricket. - Email him at [email protected]

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