Twitter Transparency Measures for Online Political Ads are Encouraging

Oct 25, 2017
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Larry Noble, senior director and general counsel at Campaign Legal Center (CLC) released the following statement responding to Twitter’s announcement that it plans to create a “transparency center” that will disclose information about political ads purchased on the platform:

“Twitter’s new transparency policy is a small step towards giving voters, journalists, watchdog groups, and law enforcement some of the tools they need to root out illegal foreign activity. While Twitter’s statement reflects a growing understanding of the serious problems arising from political ads coming from undisclosed foreign sources, we are still lacking needed specificity and uniformity regarding the nature of what will be disclosed.

Twitter’s announcement cannot help but draw attention to Facebook’s failures in this area. In contrast with Twitter’s announcement, there is a lack of clarity about how Facebook’s ambiguous policies will be defined and implemented. It has been six weeks since CLC sent a letter to Facebook, urging Chairman Mark Zuckerberg to provide the American people and appropriate investigators with more information regarding foreign entities spending money through fake accounts on Facebook ads. Facebook has neither released the necessary information nor coherently explained its reason for withholding it.

The fact that Twitter appears to be taking a more pro-active approach, while Facebook continues to resist, shows we cannot expect social media companies to hold themselves accountable and self-police their platforms. Legislative solutions are necessary to fill the transparency gaps Russian actors exploited in attempting to influence the 2016 presidential election. We hope that Twitter’s stated willingness to engage in the legislative process surrounding the Honest Ads Act indicates it is open to legislation addressing this important issue that applies equally to all large online platforms.”

Read CLC’s statement on the bipartisan bills in the House and Senate which would give tools to fight foreign interference through online ads in future elections.

On Sept. 12, 2017, CLC sent a letter to Facebook, urging Chairman Mark Zuckerberg to provide the American people and appropriate investigators with more information regarding foreign entities spending money through fake accounts on Facebook ads. 

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