Lawmakers Eyeing Tech Giants Google, Facebook, and Amazon for Regulation

For some time now, Facebook, Google, YouTube, and Twitter have pretty much had their own way with political advertising. Any entity can buy a political ad and there is no tracking on who bought the ads. The FEC has long required that Television and Radio account for each and every political ad. Not so with social networking. That may now change. It won’t be easy. No one has figured this all out yet.

As Written By Ben Jacobs for The Guardian:

Political spending on TV and press is transparent but there are no rules for online ads. With allegations of Russian influence in last year’s election, that may change.

Every time a television station sells a political ad, a record is entered into a public file saying who bought the advertisement and how much money they spent.

In contrast, when Facebook or Google sells a political ad, there is no public record of that sale. That situation is of growing concern to politicians and legislators in Washington as digital advertising becomes an increasingly central part of American political campaigns. During the 2016 election, over $1.4bn was spent in online advertising, which represented a 789 percent increase over the 2012 election.

Online advertising is expected to become even more important in the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election. However, while regulations governing television, radio and print ads are long established, there is little oversight in place for digital political ads. Broadcast television and radio stations are legally mandated to record who bought political ads and how muchthey spent. But online, political ad buyers are under no such obligations – and so the public are flying blind. The result is a landscape that one operative compared to “the wild west.”

For example, last week it was revealed that a Russian influence operation spent over $100,000 on Facebook during the 2016 election. As Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia warned recently, this expenditure could be “the tip of the……

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DC eyes tighter regulations on Facebook and Google as concern grows | Technology | The Guardian

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