McCain joins Dems on bill to regulate social media ads

McCain Draws Up Bill To Punish Facebook Over Russia Interference

Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat of Minnesota, is the lead author of the bill, and she said that companies like Google and Facebook are unable to adequately self-police, which is why she says legislation is needed.

Its creators hope that the bill can make its way through Congress before primary season begins, fending off or at least complicating further attempts by the Russian government to seed divisive political ads online.

Although Twitter and Google were apparently key to spreading fake news past year, much of the information war took place on Facebook, where hundreds of pages dedicated to USA election issues were reportedly controlled by Russian trolls. "The Honest Ads Act would prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite". Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate's panel. The legislation also has support from Republican Sen.

"These companies rely on the trust of all of us who use the platforms", said Senator Warner.

"Unfortunately, U.S. laws regulating transparency in political campaigns have not kept pace with rapid advances in technology, allowing our adversaries to take advantage of these loopholes to influence millions of American voters with impunity", McCain said in a statement. Campaigns spending more than $500 on ads will have to make them available for public viewing along with disclosures about who paid for the ad, who the ad was targeted at, and the cost.

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The proposal arrives as congressional lawmakers continue to probe the extent to which Russian-aligned sought to co-opt Facebook, Google and Twitter before and after the 2016 presidential race. Warner said Thursday that "it is in their own self interest to work with us", pointing to the consumer trust that those companies depend on, and called the legislation a "light touch approach". Republican Senator John McCain announced his support for the bill earlier this week and has since been added as a co-sponsor. "What I understood they were trying to get at is already illegal: foreign money in U.S. elections". Following Facebook's disclosure of the ads, Twitter found some accounts that were linked to them, plus others that weren't linked.

Executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter will have a chance to weigh in on the legislation when they testify in an open hearing the Senate Intelligence Committee has scheduled for next month.

"We stand with lawmakers in their effort to achieve transparency in political advertising". The Federal Election Commission regulates campaign finance laws. Under it, tech companies like the ones above would be required to disclose the political online ads its sells, and that disclosure will include who purchases the advertisements.

Of the thousands of Russian-bought Facebook ads, Facebook has said less than $3 was spent on half of the ads. The account was identified by the RBC news outlet as one controlled by the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm reportedly funded through a company run by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, a confidant of President Vladimir Putin.

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