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The Honest Ads Act

Congress just introduced the Honest Ads Act, a bipartisan bill to prevent foreign election interference and bring more transparency to online political advertisements. This bill is a powerful preliminary move to protect our American democracy from foreign interference and money.   

 

Right now, the FCC regulations and guidelines that apply to political television and radio advertisements do not apply to ads on the internet. The Honest Ads Act calls for transparency for online and social media ads similar to those regulations already imposed by the FCC.

 

This is a crucial first step in addressing key problems with political advertisements online. As we saw in the 2016 elections, social media played a critical role in driving narratives and influencing public perception of the candidates. Had the Honest Ads Act already been enacted in 2016, the Kremlin wouldn’t have been able to disguise their targeted political ads as grassroots dissent.

 

This, by no means is an all-encompassing solution, it does not address the negative social media posts that were integral in the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign, but it is one way we can address the disinformation attacks that were carried out in 2016.

 

This much-needed reform addresses key online ad loopholes that have allowed bad actors to sow discord in our country through social media. The Honest Ads Act holds major platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google accountable for collecting and publishing information about ad purchasers. It requires that anyone spending over $500 on ad space makes the ad public and discloses sponsors. Unlike most new regulation efforts, many technology companies have expressed their support for reforms like the Honest Ads Act.

 

115 current and former public officials signed a bipartisan letter encouraging Congress to pass the Honest Ads Act for the sake of free and fair elections.

 

As the Honest Ads Act is debated in Congress and the 2020 election rapidly approaches, we must keep pushing our representatives to protect our democratic institutions and secure our elections.

 

The Honest Ads Acts was introduced in the Senate (S.1356) by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Mark Warner (D-VA) and in the House (H.R. 2592) by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06) with 13 original Republican cosponsors.

 

This is an essential issue that already has widespread bipartisan support. Let’s keep that momentum going by:

 

1. Calling your representative. Urge them to support the Honest Ads Act and protect our elections from foreign interference.

 

2. Reading the Honest Ads Act.  The better you know what the bill actually says, the better you can defend it. Read the House and Senate bills for yourself.

 

3. Joining your local SUR chapter. Our state chapters regularly schedule visits with representatives at their state offices. Join the team to fight for the Honest Ads Act face-to-face.