The 'Honest Ads Act' Would Help Expose the Special Interests Behind Online Political Ads

Contact Info: 

Timothy Karr, 201-533-8838

WASHINGTON — On Thursday, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, John McCain and Mark Warner introduced the “Honest Ads Act.” The bill is Congress’ first effort since last year’s election to introduce some transparency and accountability in the massive online political-advertising market on platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter.

The bill requires online platforms with a monthly average of at least 50 million unique monthly visitors to maintain a searchable record of ads “made by or on behalf of a candidate” and of those communicating a “message relating to any political matter of national importance.”

The bill also includes penalties for noncompliance and requires the platforms to take reasonable measures to reject political ads purchased by foreign nationals. The legislation would strengthen prohibitions in current law against foreign nationals’ involvement in U.S. elections.

Free Press Action Fund  Policy Counsel Gaurav Laroia made the following statement:

“This bill represents a necessary first step toward ensuring there are adequate protections against the abuse of social media and other online platforms to shape the news and information we consume and influence the choices we make in a democracy.

“We can’t understand what we can’t see. As online advertising grows, the public must be able to know who is paying to influence our elections. The bill represents the tip of a very large iceberg as new media gatekeepers like Facebook, Google and Twitter come under much-needed scrutiny for their role in our economy and our society. This bipartisan effort to better understand and disclose the forces seeking to influence our elections is a good place to start.”