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Facebook and Twitter Ads: New Legislation Coming?

By: Amanda Reichert

 

I’m sure we can all remember the controversy during the latest presidential election regarding Russians interfering with the election. It hit mainstream media, but it didn’t seem to go any further on the news, while investigations were taking place. Recently, evidence has been found that this, in fact, a true claim; Russians were buying ads to interfere with the election for 2016. These ads were found on Facebook, Twitter, and Google platforms.

 

Many news outlets are saying this type of ad pushing will be prevented in the future. Election laws and monitoring of ads on the internet do not require companies to disclose who is sponsoring their advertisements. Advertisements, especially during elections, on television and radio stations are required to state the sponsor. Some estimates put new legislation to create a more standardized system to be in place early next year.

 

CBS News reported that Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer for Facebook, stated that what happened was very troubling, and “…we have a responsibility to do everything we can do to prevent this kind of abuse on this kind of platform” (Tillett, Emily). Facebook also announced that they will be hiring around 1,000 new employees to look into ads such as the ones published during the election for future prevention.

 

Google also spoke out about the ads, issuing a statement, “We have a set of strict ads policies including limits on political ad targeting and prohibitions on targeting based on race and religion. We are taking a deeper look to investigate attempts to abuse our systems, working with researchers and other companies, and will provide assistance to ongoing inquiries” (Dwoskin, Elizabeth).

 

At the time of this article, Twitter has not released a statement regarding a fix for the issue. They recognize that there were over 200 bot accounts used, but have not looked into fixing the issue, only referencing a change in policy.

 

Dwoskin, Elizabeth, et al. “Google uncovers Russian-Bought ads on YouTube, Gmail, and other platforms.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 9 Oct. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/10/09/google-uncovers-russian-bought-ads-on-youtube-gmail-and-other-platforms/?utm_term=.4c5de7fba464.

 

Tillett, Emily. “Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg discusses Russia ad controversy.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 12 Oct. 2017, www.cbsnews.com/news/facebook-exec-sheryl-sandberg-speaks-out-following-russia-ad-controversy/.