Tech giants like Facebook have long enjoyed the inability of U.S. courts to figure out how laws, many written long before the Internet, should apply to them. However, that might be changing in a big way: there is an increasing push on Capitol Hill to regulate Facebook, in particular its advertising, since the discovery that shady Russian groups bought ads during the 2016 presidential election.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has put forward a bill called the Honest Ads Act that would require Facebook to publically reveal who buys political ads, how they’re targeted and how much is spent. The bill has drawn wide support from advocacy groups, including the Campaign Legal Center, the Brennan Center for Justice, Public Citizen and more. It has also piqued the interest of other lawmakers who weren’t involved in its creation.
“Social media advertising had to be regulated, it’s the wild wild west,” Senator Lindsey Graham said. “When it comes to disclosing who pays for online advertisements, you’ve got to try to apply the same rules you would to radio and TV.”
For its part, Facebook issued a measured statement agreeing with parts of the bill and pledging to work together with lawmakers. However, As The Verge points out, the company is unlikely to accept several major parts of the legislation, including revealing its targeting information.
Time will tell how all this shakes out, but it seems apparent Facebook won’t be able to skate by normal U.S. ad laws for much longer.