Facebook wants 'flexibility' in political advertising regs

Facebook wants 'flexibility' in political advertising regs
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Facebook says that it supports the government’s push to further regulate election ads on digital platforms, but qualifies that it wants flexible rules.

The company explained in comments it sent to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that new regulations should give “advertisers flexibility to meet their disclaimer obligations in innovative ways that take full advantage of the technological advance.”

The firm explained that by “technological advances,” it means instead of firm rules requiring specific text to show up on political ads on its platform, Facebook would instead like to see provision that allow the company the freedom in how it shows users who is buying ads.

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“For example, allowing ads to include an icon or other obvious indicator that more information about an ad is available via quick navigation (like a single click) would give clear guidance on how to include disclaimers in new technologies as they are developed,” Facebook offered as a potential solution.

The social media giant’s proposal, if taken up by the FEC, would allow Facebook to meet transparency requirements but still control the design and appearance of how ads are displayed on its website.

Facebook also touted its self-regulation work to the agency, detailing the transparency features it is building that let users know who is funding ads as the company attempts to preempt federal regulation of political ads on digital platforms like its own.

The FEC has been soliciting public comment on new rules over political advertising disclosures for tech firms like Facebook as well Twitter and Google who have filed their own comments to the agency.

Twitter and Google have also been working to introduce their own transparency measures to preempt regulators, though some lawmakers aren’t satisfied.

Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharFranken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Trump-free Kennedy Center Honors avoids politics MORE (D-Minn.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank Comey back in the spotlight after Flynn makes a deal Warner: Every week another shoe drops in Russia investigation MORE (D-Va.) have introduced the Honest Ads Act, legislation that would hold political ads on digital platforms to the same standard as ads on TV and radio stations. The two say that while they’re pleased with steps the companies have taken on their own, but say that tighter regulation is still necessary.

Calls for regulation in the space have been galvanized by Russian election meddling, which critics say was partially the result of companies like Facebook and Twitter not closely monitoring and not offering enough transparency as to who buys political ads on their platform.