Twitter has officially announced its support for the Honest Ads Act a week after Facebook did the same via the latter's CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Which is appropriate given the bill exists because election-influencing ads ran rampant on both platforms leading up to the 2016 presidential election. The legislation was introduced last year to enforce transparency about who backed and paid for online political ads.
Twitter is pleased to support the Honest Ads Act. Back in the fall we indicated we supported proposals to increase transparency in political ads.— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) April 10, 2018
Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar introduced the bill last October as a direct response to Russian attempts to influence elections. Specifically, it would do this by:
- Amending the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002's definition of electioneering communication to include paid Internet and digital advertisements.
- Requiring digital platforms with at least 50,000,000 monthly viewers to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications purchased by a person or group who spends more than $500.00 total on ads published on their platform. The file would contain a digital copy of the advertisement, a description of the audience the advertisement targets, the number of views generated, the dates and times of publication, the rates charged, and the contact information of the purchaser.
- Requiring online platforms to make all reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate.
Twitter's call to back the Honest Ads Act came hours before Facebook CEO Zuckerberg went before a Congressional committee to answer for user data mismanagement with Cambridge Analytica and others. Sen. Warner took to Twitter to applaud the platform's support of his legislation, and hoped that Google -- another host for Russian advertising that sought to interfere with American elections -- would follow soon.