Facebook – Russia Collusion Prompts Internet Advertising Regulation Debate

The presidential election of 2016 will go down in history as one of the most profound and unsettling displays of political competition in recent memory.

This has nothing to do with the result, but rather, the concerns raised during the general election came from democratic sources that were corrupted, colluded with, or otherwise compromised throughout the course of the contest.

On the left, the 2016 election was marred with controversy.  Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was found to have been colluding with the DNC in order to thwart the attempts of primary challenger Bernie Sanders, as well as in order to receive previews of CNN debate questions ahead of her battles with eventual Commander in Chief Donald Trump.  Then, mysteriously, the supposed source of this leaked information ends up dead after a botched robbery in which nothing of value, including his wallet and cell phone, were removed from the body.

Just last week we learned of another angle in democratic debauchery during the 2016 election in which Russian officials purchased advertising campaigns through Facebook targeted toward liberal groups such as Black Lives Matter.  Upon further review, it was determined that the Russians were hoping to use these ads to foment civil unrest in America, thus interfering with our standard electoral process.

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It is this three-way relationship of Facebook, the Democrats, and Russia that has prompted a debate on Capitol Hill over the future of internet advertising.

“U.S. legislation that would impose new disclosure requirements on political ads that run on Facebook and other websites received support on Wednesday from Senator John McCain, giving a bipartisan boost to a bill already popular among Democrats.

“McCain, a longtime supporter of regulating campaign finances, and two Democratic senators, Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner, plan to introduce the legislation on Thursday, according to a statement from their offices on Wednesday.

“Online political ads are much more loosely regulated in the United States than political ads on television, radio and satellite services.

“The lack of regulation was highlighted last month when Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Twitter Inc said that they had found election-related ad buys on their services made by people in Russia in the run-up to last year’s U.S. presidential election. Non-Americans are generally not allowed to spend money to influence U.S. elections.

“The legislation from the three senators would put online ads under the same rules as television, radio and satellite, so that who paid for them and other information would need to be disclosed.”

Utilized appropriately, such regulation could yield a significant amount of transparency in the Wild West-like world of internet advertising.  At the same time, however, free speech advocates do have something to fear.

Should leftist entities such as Facebook and Google decide to apply this information in their censorship algorithms, an enormous swath of political opinions could be wiped off of the platform entirely.  Facebook in particular has been working to crack down on conservative news sources both through human intervention and coding changes, and this regulation would give the liberal platform carte blanche to blackball any advertisements from media outlets with whom they disagree.

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