Senators seek a crackdown on Facebook in addition to also also Google political ads

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., left, in addition to also also Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., speak about online political ads in addition to also also preventing foreign interference in U.S. elections, during a news conference, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Jacquelyn Martin | AP

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., left, in addition to also also Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., speak about online political ads in addition to also also preventing foreign interference in U.S. elections, during a news conference, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Three senators began a bipartisan push Thursday to rein in social media political ads amid fears about Russian meddling in American elections.

Should the bill gain more bipartisan traction, the item might mark one of the strongest efforts yet to check companies like Facebook in addition to also also Google.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in addition to also also Mark Warner, D-Va., crafted the bill, called the “Honest Ads Act.” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., signed on as a co-sponsor.

The senators expect the bill will curb the reach of foreign-bought political ads during American elections. The U.S. intelligence community has concluded Russia launched a campaign to influence the 2016 election in addition to also also will try to do so again during next year’s midterm elections.

the item can be not clear how many more of the majority Republicans in Congress will get behind the bill. the item will need broader GOP support to pass. Klobuchar in addition to also also Warner expressed optimism of which more Republicans might support the plan.

Here’s what the legislation might do, according to the senators’ offices:

  • Expand federal rules to require a disclaimer in addition to also also disclosure to the Federal Election Commission for paid online political ads. Ads advocating for or against a specific candidate online might also need a disclaimer. Disclaimers say whether a campaign paid for or supported the message.
  • Digital platforms with 50 million or more unique monthly visitors might have to keep a public database of political ads. They might have to maintain records for entities of which bought more than $500 in political ads from the preceding 12 months. The database might have to include a copy of the ad, the rate charged in addition to also also a summary of its target audience, among different pieces of information.
  • the item might also require the platforms to make a “reasonable” effort to stop foreign nationals coming from using ads to influence elections.

The Russian effort “exposes a national security vulnerability when the item comes to online political advertisements,” Klobuchar said. American laws “have failed to keep up” with the technology foreign entities can use, she added.

Tech titans Facebook in addition to also also Google parent Alphabet have said they found Russia-linked ads on their platforms during the election.

Klobuchar described brand-new regulation as necessary because of both companies’ vast reach. She noted of which Facebook in addition to also also Google accounted for nearly all digital ad revenue growth last year in addition to also also currently serve as a news source to millions of voters.

the item remains to be seen what measures the social media platforms will support. Major technology companies have opposed similar rules from the past.

Warner on Thursday described the measures as “common sense, light touch regulations.”

In a statement Thursday, Facebook said the item will work with lawmakers to improve transparency in political ads.

“We have already announced the steps Facebook will take on our own in addition to also also we look forward to continuing the conversation with lawmakers as we work toward a legislative solution,” the company said.

A Google spokesperson said the company supports “efforts to improve transparency, enhance disclosures in addition to also also reduce foreign abuse.”

“We’re evaluating steps we can take on our own platforms in addition to also also will work closely with lawmakers, the FEC, in addition to also also the industry to explore the best solutions,” the spokesperson said.

Twitter has also found fake accounts in addition to also also bots linked to Russia. The company has said the item can be taking steps to stop malicious bots in addition to also also misinformation on the platform.

In a statement to CNBC on Wednesday, Twitter said the item looks forward to “engaging” with Congress in addition to also also the Federal Election Commission on ad transparency.

Representatives coming from all three of those companies will attend a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Nov. 1.

Klobuchar serves as the ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee, which carries a role in elections. Warner can be the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, one of the congressional panels investigating Russian meddling in addition to also also possible collusion with the Donald Trump campaign.

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