A trade group representing big tech’s interests in Washington reached out to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Tuesday to weigh in on proposed regulation that would affect the disclosure of funding for online election ads.
While traditional forms of media like TV and radio face strict rules for disclosing election campaign ad funding, social media and web advertising is now under similar scrutiny following revelations about Russian social media influence campaigns during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Tech companies are warming up to proposed regulation in Congress known as the Honest Ads Act, but the FEC is working on a new ruleset of its own regarding funding disclosures for election ads as well.
In its new comments, the Internet Association (which represents companies including Facebook, Twitter, Google, Snap and more) argued that such disclosures should be allowed to live one click away from the ads, pushing against proposals that would force disclosure to be displayed on an ad itself. The IA said such requirements would be limiting for innovation in the ad industry.
“IA also believes that technology plays an important role in providing information, and that rollovers, click-throughs, and other technology yet to be developed, can provide far more meaningful information to users than traditional ‘in the box’ disclaimers,” said IA President and CEO Michael Beckerman.
In the filing, the IA further elaborated on its position in favor of what it calls adaptive disclaimers:
“Rather than trying to fit a ‘paid for by’ notice on an ad that may change in size when delivered on different platforms or devices, the adaptive disclaimer would be inserted into the ad and be visible and accessible in all formats.”
Instead of traditional on-ad disclosures, the IA suggested a more flexible approach to implementing these regulations that would accommodate the wide range of ad types that the internet makes possible. In its comments, the IA argues that the FEC should “require internet ads to include a one-click away disclaimer or a disclaimer within the frame of the ad itself” to allow disclaimers to appear in hover-over text or in text below videos, among other less traditional ad formats.