Slate: Political Ads on Facebook Now Need to Say Who Paid For Them

April Glaser
Dec 18, 2017
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The Federal Election Commission determined that political ads with images or videos posted on Facebook now have to include disclaimers about who paid for them. It was the first time the FEC had clarified its federal rules for posting political ads on Facebook in six years. Candidates spent more than $1.4 billion in the 2016 election on online political ads, so this decision could actually shake things up in advance of the 2018 midterms.

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“Many of the Facebook ads that Russia bought before the 2016 election didn’t include any disclaimers abut who paid for them,” said Brendan Fischer, the director of FEC reform at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization based in Washington. Disclosures won’t fix everything, of course. For instance, super PACs commonly take on benign names to conceal the source of their funding and motives. “If Russia had included a disclaimer on its political ads, it may have only included information on a popup group set up to buy the ads,” he admitted. “But that disclaimer information still could have provided the breadcrumbs for the public to find out where these messages came from.”

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