Lawmakers Considering Forcing Social Media to Disclose Whose Buying Political Ads

Senate portrait for U.S. Senator Mark Warner.

In the past Republicans were against laws regulating political speech, but in the wake of the Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election conservative lawmakers are rethinking the issue.

Congressional Republicans are thinking about joining with Democrats to require more transparency for political advertising on Twitter and Facebook. Both parties would like to avoid a repeat of the 2016 election in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.

Senators Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota, and Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, say that the revelation that Facebook sold political ads to accounts linked to Russians is just the beginning. They would like to create legislation that would strictly regulate technology and social media companies so that they must reveal who they are selling political ads to. The goal would be to bring online content closer to the types of transparency television must provide.

Even though historically Republicans have been against regulation of political speech, they now seem to be more open to preventing foreigners, especially Russians, from having influence on the soon to be upon us 2018 elections. Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and James Lanford of Oklahoma both sit on the intelligence committee where Warner is the head Democrat. They both said last week that they are considering the Warner-Klobacher proposal.

“We’re talking it through,” Lankford said in an interview, stating that he has “not determined yet what I’m going to do.”
Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, also said that, although he hasn’t yet taken a closer look at the proposal, he is amenable to the idea.

“We need full disclosure,” McCain said. He added that in recent reports he was a target of fake Russian Facebook accounts and bots. He warned that “Kremlin-backed advertisements are just one element of Vladimir Putin’s long-term goal of undermining democracies around the world.”

Gail Nussbaum

Gail Nussbaum has been involved in politics and diplomacy for over 15 years. Her interest in foreign relations, economics and budget policy has led her to her position as fiscal policy writer at Left Justified. Gail can be contacted at gailnussbaum(at)

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