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FEC reviews stricter rules for political ads on social media

The FEC wants to make it harder for Russian troll farms to post ads this election season.
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The Federal Exchange Commission has begun reviewing a stricter set of rules for political ads on social media. FEC chief Ellen Weintraub has revealed at a tech conference in Washington that the agency has finished writing up a draft of new rules, months after it agreed to do so following requests from politicians and tech titans alike. She said the commission is hoping to "to be able move this rule-making forward within" the 2018 midterm elections.

The Congress, the Senate, Google and other entities urged the FEC to conjure up tighter regulations for political ads on social networks and the internet as a whole after what happened during the 2016 Presidential Elections. Facebook first revealed in September that Russian troll farms purchased $100,000 worth of ads on its platform, which pointed to fake news Pages meant to sow discord among the country's citizens. Since around 150 million Facebook and Instagram accounts were exposed to those ads, the company had to create a tool that shows if you followed a Russian troll. Twitter and Google also found evidence that Russian trolls used their platforms in an effort to meddle in the Presidential elections.

Weintraub didn't reveal the draft's details during the event, but according to Bloomberg, the new rules focus on ads that directly advocate for a particular candidate. Lawmakers also want political ads on the internet to have the same disclosure requirements TV and radio ads do, but Bloomberg says that's not the core of the agency's draft rules.

At the same conference, Katie Harbath, Facebook's government outreach director, said the social network will start displaying how much money it's earning on political ads, as well as the age, location and gender of the people who see them. In addition, it's looking to start verifying people buying ads for a particular political group or candidate. While Harbath didn't elaborate on how the company plans to do that, it's worth noting that Facebook recently purchased a start-up whose technology can instantly verify government IDs.

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