FEC chair makes another go at regulating online political ads

Karl Evers-Hillstrom writing for Open Secrets:

Federal Election Commission Chair Ellen Weintraub is proposing rules that would require some online political ads to attach a disclaimer describing who is paying for them.

The proposed rules — similar to measures introduced by the FEC last year — would subject paid online ads to similar disclaimer rules as print, television and radio ads. Increasingly popular social media ads, including those engaging in electioneering communications that mention a candidate shortly before an election, are currently exempt from including disclaimers under federal law.

Disclaimers on digital ads are complicated. The size and format of promoted digital content can vary dramatically, and advertising platforms are regularly developing new ad formats. For example, how do you disclaim a promoted tweet or a sponsored Facebook post w/ an image carousel? Anything useful would cannibalize the entire available content area.

I’m skeptical that the FEC can create uniform guidelines for disclaimers that are both practical and useful to the public, particularly when the software platforms are already responding to political and market pressure with their ad archives and disclaimer rules.

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