Free Speech For People and Public Citizen Issue Joint Comment to FEC on Internet Political Ads

Free Speech For People has issued a joint comment with Public Citizen encouraging the Federal Election Commission to enact stricter rules for Internet political advertisements.

The well-documented Russian meddling in the 2016 election included buying ads on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

The FEC is in mid-course on rulemaking to require disclaimers on Internet campaign ads. Public Citizen and Free Speech For People strongly encourage the Commission to lead the field in closing the dark money loophole in online political communications, and to do so swiftly. To be sure, Internet political advertising disclaimers won’t solve all the problems of big money in politics or foreign influence in our elections. But it is a common-sense step that the Commission should take immediately before more damage is done in the 2018 election.

Public Citizen and Free Speech For People strongly encourage the Commission to promulgate new rules governing disclaimers for political ads on the Internet that encompasses the following components:

  • All forms of Internet campaign advertising must be accompanied with a disclaimer as to the funding source or sources behind the ad.
  • Regardless of how short the online ad may be, all ads should at the very least require the disclaimer “Paid for by …” in letters of sufficient size to be clearly readable by the recipient, and then provide an indicator to the full disclaimer through either an active hyperlink to another page, hover-over mechanism, pop-up screen or other technological mechanism that offers full disclosure information.
  • Internet disclaimer rulemaking should be done expeditiously and in place for as much as the 2018 election cycle as possible.
  • All major social media platforms should provide a library of political ads that includes sponsors and target audiences

Public Citizen and Free Speech For People encourage the Commission to move ahead swiftly with rulemaking and promulgate a more robust and up-to-date disclosure system for Internet political advertising that will help inform the public and protect our elections from foreign interference.

To read the entire comment, click here.

To read about Free Speech For People’s other work challenging foreign influence in our elections, click here.

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