Recent scandals involving Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Russian electoral interference suggest a new sheriff is needed to restore order in the Wild West of online political advertising.
The most likely candidate for this role at present is the Honest Ads Act, a bi-partisan piece of legislation unveiled in the Senate last year, and with provisions that include the following:
- Digital platforms with over 50 million unique monthly users must build a “complete record” of advertisers that spend $500+ on political ads per year.
Providing a digital rendering of every ad is also mandatory, alongside details of the target audience, pricing, the candidate/office supported, and contact information for the buyer.
- Vendors should make “reasonable efforts” to limit foreign nationals from acquiring ads that seek to influence elections.
- For the first time, digital ads will be subjected to the same rules as their broadcast and print counterparts, meaning the details of the sponsor must be disclosed in each ad.