FEC Stalls Rules on Social Media Political Ads Because What’s the Rush?

After a rash of deceptive political ads paid for by Russia popped up on social media during the 2016 election cycle, the FEC had promised to fix that problem by passing rules requiring these ads to also display who paid for them. Now it’s looking like those rules might not be passed before the 2018 midterms, leaving another election susceptible to outside influence.

Originally a vote on these rules was scheduled for 3/8, but it has been postponed. The hold-up seems to be the fault of the FEC’s Republican members, a party that conveniently stand to benefit from not changing the rules if the previous election is any indication. Could it be that they just aren’t as motivated to get the job done too quickly?

According to Chairwoman Caroline Hunter, a Republican, the liberal and conservative members on the FEC all pretty much agree on most of the “substantial” changes they’d like to see implemented. However, there are a few minor points on “jargon” that the parties can’t seem to agree on, which is mucking up the process. Shouldn’t a compromise on something so small be achievable for an issue this imperative?

Hunter also expressed that she was hesitant to “change the rules of the game in the middle of the election season.” Yeah, why address an active problem in a timely manner when you can delay it until it doesn’t actually matter.

“Are people really going to say, ‘Oh, it’s too late in the game to run a disclaimer now’?” asked Vice Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat. “Really? Really? I don’t really buy that.”

One last obstacle that Chairwoman Hunter disclosed is that even when she the rules are presented, there will be a public comment period that will delay the timeline even further.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the #1 comment will be “Implement it NOW!” Let’s just go ahead and take it for granted that the American public wants to know who is paying for the political ads they view, especially to ensure that foreign governments aren’t behind them. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t have the integrity of U.S. elections at heart anyway.

Without oversight, it’ll now be up to the social media companies to tackle these issues, and we’ve all seen what a great job they’ve done of that in recent years! It’s worth noting that social media giants have pushed back against additional regulations, preferring to instead “voluntarily” take steps themselves, presumably so if they screw it up or drop the ball, they aren’t actually breaking any rules.

By the GOP commissioners’ own admission, disclosing the funding of political ads isn’t a partisan issue, it’s just a good choice for a healthy democracy. That said, it’s entirely partisan for one party to decide to deliberately slow down addressing this issue since inaction is likely to benefit them in the midterm elections.

If the FEC has any decency, it will reach a deal on whatever minor differences it finds in the current proposals and implement it fast to better protect the upcoming election.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

33 comments

Marie W
Marie Wabout a month ago

Thank you

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Lisa M
Lisa M7 months ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa M7 months ago

Noted.

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Elaine W
Elaine W7 months ago

People in power want to stay in power.

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Peggy B
Peggy B7 months ago

TYFS

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Janet B
Janet B7 months ago

Thanks

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Winn A
Winn Adams7 months ago

:-(

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RK R
RK R7 months ago

This article is a disguised, backdoor, inverted, masked political ad.

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Just Human
Just Human7 months ago

Voters have to stop being sheep. Social media posts shouldn't influence a thinking person. Follow issues, have a social concious, and the understand issues.

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Loredana V
Loredana V7 months ago

Do people believe that political ads are true? OMG, scaring

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