Russian-Bought Ads On Facebook Spur Lawmakers To Call For Tighter Rules


Publish Date:
September 21, 2017
  • Seetharaman, Deepa,
  • Tau, Byron
The Wall Street Journal
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Facebook Inc. FB -4.32% is suddenly in the crosshairs of lawmakers pushing to crack down on exemptions that allow social-media companies to operate beyond the norms of political campaigns.

Congressional leaders and other groups are starting to discuss legislation that would require social-media companies to create a public disclosure portal of political ads shown on their platforms, similar to the requirements of television and radio stations. The increased scrutiny follows Facebook’s disclosure in September that Russian entities spent a total of $150,000 to buy more than 5,200 ads with divisive political messages during the U.S. presidential campaign.

“It’s going to be hard to regulate in this area,” said Nate Persily, a Stanford professor who studies election law. “But it’s clearly the frontier.”

“Traditional brick-and-mortar platforms like radio and television don’t have the same protections that the internet companies do,” said Albert Gidari, director of privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for internet & Society.

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