Twitter And Google Won’t Back Honest Ads Act, But Facebook Does

By Kate Irby
McClatchy Washington Bureau

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The “Honest Ads Act” would regulate digital political ads in the same way as political ads on TV and the radio, requiring digital platforms to make “reasonable efforts” to ensure that foreign entities are not buying the ads to influence the American electorate.

WASHINGTON

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg plans Tuesday to endorse a bill that would give the government more power over political advertisements on internet platforms. But other leading tech companies and lawmakers suggest it won’t become law anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg can use his support for more government oversight to help defuse tension at congressional hearings Tuesday and Wednesday. The Facebook founder and chief executive officer will be the sole witness.

“Hearings make for great political theater, but passing legislation is a whole different ball game,” said Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at New America with an expertise in lobbying.

Twitter and Google have withheld public support for more government involvement.

Facebook and Twitter hired lobbyists last year that listed the Honest Ads Act under specific lobbying issues, according to public disclosure forms, but Google, Twitter and Facebook have all been focusing more lobbying on issues such as data privacy and cybersecurity.

Twitter and Google are not facing the same public image problem as Facebook and therefore don’t feel the need to bolster that image politically, Drutman said.

If the companies do start speaking more publicly on the bill or others like it, it’s likely they see it has a chance of success and want to participate in shaping the legislation.

Until then, they don’t want to get involved in Facebook’s controversies, Drutman said.

A spokeswoman for Twitter said Monday that the company had no update to the fall statement. A spokeswoman for Google did not respond to a request for comment.

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