Facebook: Stop the Flow of Russian Money Into Our Elections
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On September 6, 2017, Facebook revealed that Russian sources purchased approximately $100,000 of ads during the 2016 election, many of which featured misleading or factually incorrect information. These ads may have reached tens of millions of Americans.
Above is an example of an ad that was purchased. (This was surfaced by Kevin Poulson at The Daily Beast, as Facebook has refused to release any of these ads - more examples here.)
Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, foreign nationals are banned from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly.
By enabling the illegal purchase of these advertisements, Facebook helped swing the results of the 2016 presidential election.
Despite the seriousness of these events, Facebook’s response has been woefully inadequate:
1/ Facebook has refused to reveal the advertisements that were purchased. They have also refused to reveal any statistics on how many people saw the ads, how the ads were targeted, how they discovered these ads, or why it took almost ten months from the end of the election to announce this discovery.
Facebook has refused to share any of these details with the public. Instead, Facebook has offered additional details in private only to Robert Mueller’s investigation. This is concerning because this means those details may never be made public, and Facebook previously employed Mueller as outside counsel. It is important for the public to see what happened and for independent third parties to be able to analyze the level of exposure these ads received.
2/ Facebook has refused to offer specifics about what steps they are taking to prevent foreign entities from purchasing political ads in the future, beyond announcing general action against “inauthentic accounts and pages”. By only referring to inauthentic accounts and pages, Facebook is conflating a site integrity problem with the actual issue -- they have no framework for dealing with misleading or illegal political advertising.
3/ Facebook kept the money paid for the illegal Russian advertisements. Facebook has not announced any donation of the money resulting from these illegal purchases.
FACEBOOK IS FAILING OUR DEMOCRACY.
Tell Facebook we can’t allow them to stay quiet about the specifics -- they must be transparent about what happened and outline their plans to prevent this from ever happening again.
We ask Facebook to do the following:
1/ Pledge to implement strong protections to monitor political activity on their platform, to ensure foreigners can’t buy US political ads. Simply acting against “inauthentic pages” isn’t enough. They need to identify political advertisements and authenticate that the payments are only from American sources, to ensure compliance with federal law.
2/ Allow independent third parties to audit all political advertisements on their platform, and publish the results. It took ten months from the end of the election to make this discovery, which shows Facebook is not prioritizing auditing the integrity of their ad platform. Third parties can do this much faster.
3/ Work with Congress to create legislation that regulates political advertising on social media platforms to the same standard as radio and television. In particular, sponsorship identification requirements should apply to social media advertisements in the same way they do to TV and radio advertisements.
4/ Donate the money received from Russia to organizations that audit the political use of social media sites.
Please sign and share to ask Facebook to stop Russian ads and protect our elections.
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