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Honest Ads Act' Demands Online Ad Disclosures From Tech Giants

Honest Ads Act' Demands Online Ad Disclosures From Tech Giants

Platforms would also be required to make "reasonable efforts" to keep foreign actors from buying political ads.

After months of congressional investigations into Russian interference with US elections, legislation is gaining traction in the Senate that would impose new disclosure requirements for political advertising on Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social media.

Last month, after US regulators and criminal investigators began looking at the Russia-linked ads, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said his company would take several voluntary steps to make political ads more transparent, such as allowing anyone to seem them no matter whom they target.

This report comes after it was discovered that Russian Federation bought some 3,000 ads and cut Facebook a cheque for over $100,000 during the 2016 election.

Facebook also outlined other measures it says it will take to try to boost disclosure, including requiring more documentation on the source of political spots.

As the top Democrat on the Senate Intel Committee, Warner has had a front row seat to the revelations around Russian interference in the 2016 USA election.

The Senate and House intelligence committees are two of the main congressional panels probing allegations that Russian Federation sought to interfere in the USA election to boost Republican President Donald Trump's chances of winning, and possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian Federation.

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The proposal arrives as congressional lawmakers continue to probe the extent to which Russian-aligned sought to co-opt Facebook, Google and Twitter before and after the 2016 presidential race. "Our laws should be as sophisticated as those who are trying to manipulate us or to break the law". But, he said, "a number of people are wanting to wait until the platform companies come in and have their day of testimony". "That's not the way I operate", he said.

It's also unclear where the social media giants will land on the bill once the details are released. The company's high-profile Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg will not appear.

In their press conference announcing the bill, the senators noted that Google and Facebook command 85% on online political ads.

"I'm not going to tell you they support this bill right now, but they have to realize that as the world has changed and they have been selling ads to people and making money off of this political system, that they have an obligation just like TV and radio has to disclose this publicly", Klobuchar said.

In the past, technology companies have resisted attempts to force them into disclosing information about paid advertisers, although some have said they would cooperate with congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the election.

One of the key questions is whether accounts would be able to evade any new disclosure requirements, which explains why the senators lowered the $10,000 ad disclosure threshold to $500.

In addition, Twitter has taken action against suspected Russian troll accounts, suspending 22 accounts that corresponded with fake accounts used on Facebook. For 99% of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent.


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