Twitter, like Facebook, says political ads need regulation

It's following Facebook in supporting the Senate's proposed Honest Ads Act, which would require more transparency on political ads appearing on online platforms.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read
Messenger And Facebook : Illustration

Twitter said it will support federal legislation requiring more transparency for political advertising online. 

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Twitter is the latest online company to support a proposed law to regulate political ads amid growing public pressure after  revelations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections.

The social media company announced on its public policy Twitter feed Tuesday that it will follow Facebook in supporting the Honest Ads Act, a Senate bill that would require tech companies to disclose how political ads are targeted and how much they cost. The bipartisan bill is sponsored by senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota; Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia; and John McCain, a Republican from Arizona.

"Twitter is pleased to support the Honest Ads Act," the company said in a tweet. "Back in the fall we indicated we supported proposals to increase transparency in political ads."

In a followup tweet, the company said it's moving forward on providing transparency for online ads. "We believe the Honest Ads Act provides an appropriate framework for such ads and look forward to working with bill sponsors and others to continue to refine and advance this important proposal."

Warner applauded Twitter's public support, and urged Google to do the same. "Huge step forward for the #HonestAds Act. I hope @Google will soon join @Facebook and @Twitter in supporting this bipartisan bill to bring accountability and transparency to online political ads," Warner said in a tweet.

Google has not responded to requests for comment.

The legislation, which would require online companies to adhere to the same disclosure rules as those governing television and radio ads, was drafted after federal law enforcement and US intelligence services disclosed that Russian trolls abused Twitter, Facebook and other online platforms to stir up controversy and split the American electorate during the 2016 US presidential campaign.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Friday said he supports political advertising regulation.

"Election interference is a problem that's bigger than any one platform, and that's why we support the Honest Ads Act," he said in a Facebook post. "This will help raise the bar for all political advertising online."

Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify at Congressional hearings Tuesday and Wednesday, where he'll be discussing online privacy and data protection. Facebook has been engulfed in controversy since it was made public that Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy with ties to the Trump presidential campaign, harvested data on up to 87 million Facebook users without their permission.

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