Top officials from Facebook, Google, and Twitter told a congressional panel Tuesday that their platforms hosted a disinformation campaign carried out over their networks by Russian state actors. The propaganda centered on the presidential election, immigration, gun rights, gay rights, and racial issues, the companies said. None of the three organizations said they supported proposed legislation requiring them to disclose who is buying political advertisements on their platforms, although these Web companies promised more public transparency about who is buying ads on their networks.
All political spending must be disclosed in some form or another in most countries, so I see no reason why ad spending on Facebook or Twitter should be any different. I also like the idea to make it illegal – or impossible – for foreign entities to buy ad space for political content; as in, a French entity would not be able to buy political ads in The Netherlands. It’s already illegal in, say, the US for foreign entities to donate or spend money on candidates, so there’s definitely precedent.
The real issue, however, is that it might be hard, though, to define what is a political ad, and what isn’t.