Democrats in the House and Senate are pushing the Federal Election Commission to develop new rules governing political advertising on social media after Facebook revealed that Russian trolls routinely purchased ads on its platform during the 2016 election cycle.
“Foreign nationals were shown to have routinely deployed sophisticated tactics in making political expenditures to evade detection, with the express purpose of undermining the integrity of our elections,” the group wrote in a letter to FEC chairman Steven Walther. “Social media platforms offer the ability to target millions of users based upon a wealth of highly-detailed information. As we have seen, the low cost of reaching these users equips hostile foreign actors with a powerful new tool for disruption of our democratic process. Therefore, it is incumbent that the Commission take immediate action to preserve the integrity of our election law and our elections.”
The group is asking the FEC to come up with a plan for issuing new rules to prevent foreign groups from funding online political ads by October 4th. Among the requested recommendations are guidance for advertisement platforms to prevent foreign groups from purchasing political ads and improve disclosure of ad funding.
The FEC is also being asked how it would “monitor illicit coordination between a campaign and a third party political spender, including foreign actors,” which sure seems like a reference to a certain special counsel investigation into a certain presidential campaign.