If you’ve been hoping for increased transparency on political ads posted to Facebook–especially in the wake of the scandal over Russian propaganda spread on social media during and after the 2016 election–you’ve got it.
Today, the U.S. Federal Election Commission said that such ads on Facebook must include the same kind of disclaimers that are added to political advertising on TV, radio, and in print.
Here it is: the FEC opinion declaring that Facebook political ads must include a disclaimer stating who paid for them.
A small step towards closing gaps exploited by foreign actors to secretly buy ads in the 2016 elections. pic.twitter.com/9Ne4U3YemB
— Brendan Fischer (@brendan_fischer) December 15, 2017
In a letter the FEC sent today to Take Back Action Fund in response to a request for clarification on the issue, the commission wrote that the political organization is required to follow the same guidelines as other forms of political ads.
The decision is important, as it would seem the result will be that future political advertising on Facebook–and, presumably, other social media–lets people know who’s behind it. That’s a change from the lack of required transparency until now. In response to controversies over Russians placing fake election ads on Facebook, the company has said it will insist on disclosure, but this is the first time the government has said such information will be required.