Reuters published an article about how foreign governments could get around laws of political ads in the US and specifically mentioned Facebook. It’s intent was to push the narrative of how social media could be used to meddle in an election.
From the article:
The absence of rules governing online advertising ties the hands of the U.S. Federal Election Commission, said Ann Ravel, a former Democratic appointee to the commission.
“The law seems to totally exempt it and therefore it is not possible either to reasonably determine who is behind those ads, do an investigation to find out or penalize for that activity,” Ravel said.
Ann Ravel is the only one of two people quoted in the story. She’s a former Democratic appointee. Apparently, the other former commissioners who might call Anne a biased liberal didn’t get their emails back in time for this hard scooped story. Or maybe they went into the spam folder.
A related law does bar foreign nationals from expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate in any advertising medium. But as long as online ads do not call on people to vote for a specific candidate, “they are not prohibited as a campaign finance matter,” said Jan Baran, a Washington lawyer who frequently represents Republican candidates.
The implication is that foreign governments can, in lieu of sending campaign dollars get ads on social media, so long as they don’t call people. It also implies campaigns don’t have to report that money. Huh.
The story doesn’t produce any facts to show that anyone was influenced by supposed “Foreign Government Ads”. It just says it’s possible. Mark Zuckerberg was still working the Fake News widget and couldn’t comment.
The Trump Campaign spent $70 million on targeted Facebook ads, as quoted in the article. That was based on previous campaign statements
The article does not report what the Clinton campaign spent on the platform, nor the DNC. I saw many ads from both the DNC and the Clinton campaign on Facebook during the campaign. But they aren’t under investigation for influencing an American institution, like say, the media.
U.S. Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed in May to investigate alleged Russian interference as well as potential collusion between Moscow and associates of President Donald Trump. The Russian government says it did not meddle and Trump has denied collusion.
Facebook (FB.O), which has become a leading platform for online political ads, has said that it has not found any evidence that Russian agents were buying ads.
Let me get this straight: Let’s review why this article is important, then in the next paragraph, mention that Facebook hasn’t found anything to suggest Russian agents were using the platform to meddle in the election. BUT THIS IS IMPORTANT!
Question: Do you put mayo or mustard on a nothing burger?