Policy Solutions

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is the federal regulatory agency in charge of monitoring and enforcing campaign finance law in the United States. Online advertisers exploit their outdated political advertising laws to run misleading political ads without accountability. The FEC could remove these self-imposed handcuffs and open the floodgates, allowing the Commission to impose a vast swath of electioneering rules on online political ads, as they already do for those on TV or radio.

In this brief, we identify three misleading online advertising practices that bypass political ad disclaimer requirements and, for each, propose draft regulations to discourage them. These changes could be accomplished right now, without an act of Congress.

Coming soon!

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Online advertisers exploit outdated political advertising laws to bypass the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC’s) existing disclaimer and reporting rules. This makes it significantly easier for political propagandists to spread disinformation in online ads without accountability.

Online political ads already have a massive reach, and that reach is growing exponentially. In the summer of 2018, online political ads generated tens of billions of views, and total online political ad spending for 2020 is expected to be over three times what it was in 2016.

Two pieces of legislation recently introduced into Congress – the Honest Ads Act and the Filter Bubble Transparency Act – would help correct the deficiencies in the existing political advertising system, but they leave certain definitions unclear. In this brief, we review each piece of legislation, and propose regulations that the executive branch could implement were the legislation to be passed.

Coming soon!

This browser does not support inline PDFs. Please download the PDF to view it: Download PDF

This browser does not support inline PDFs. Please download the PDF to view it:

Download PDF

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