Facebook set to hand over Russia-bought ads

Facebook set to hand over Russia-bought ads

On Thursday, October 19, Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Mark Warner of Virgina, with Republican co-sponsor Senator John McCain of Arizona, introduced the Honest Ads Act, legislation created to help improve transparency of online political ads and prevent foreign entities from interfering with USA elections. The proposed legislation was crafted as a response to a Russian-financed propaganda campaign that ran on an array of Web services to spread disinformation and discord during the 2016 election.

"We believe the public deserves a full accounting of what happened in the 2016 election, and we've concluded that sharing the ads we've discovered, in a manner that is consistent with our obligations to protect user information, can help", he said. Warner said. "I don't know what opposition there would be to that kind of disclosure".

Thompson also said that Silicon Valley's recent negative publicity could get worse if they come out against the Honest Ads Act. Federal law bars foreign groups from spending money to influence American elections.

Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner and Republican John McCain introduced the "Honest Ads Act", one of the strongest efforts in Congress yet to address allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.

McCain would not say whether his support might pave the way for more Republicans to come on board. But Warner said, "It's our hope that the social media companies and platform companies will work with us".

The legislation would expand existing election law covering television and radio outlets to apply to paid internet and digital advertisements on platforms like Facebook, Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) and Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google.

Riva Sciuto, a spokeswoman for Google, said in a statement, "We support efforts to improve transparency, enhance disclosures and reduce foreign abuse".

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"We're evaluating steps we can take on our own platforms and will work closely with lawmakers, the FEC, and the industry to explore the best solutions", Google said.

But while the company is not commenting beyond Egan's statement, it is likely Facebook would oppose several provisions within the act.

"We have already announced the steps Facebook will take on our own and we look forward to continuing the conversation with lawmakers as we work toward a legislative solution", said Facebook's vice president of U.S. public policy, Erin Egan.

Lawmakers are taking steps to require Facebook and other online platforms to disclose who buys political ads on their sites.

The technology giant also said it would share at whom the adverts had been targeted and how much they had cost.

Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Republican Representative Mike Coffman and Democrat Derek Kilmer.

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