Truth and lies: Social media political ads

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) – As the 2020 election approaches, social media will once again be a major avenue for political candidates to run ads. 

Lawmakers are pushing social media companies to get tougher on candidates whose ads are misleading.

Political candidates now spend tens of millions of dollars to reach voters on social media.

“These social media platforms have a responsibility to make sure that blatant lies aren’t transmitted on their platform,” Representative Josh Harder, D-California, said. 

Congressman Josh Harder has called for companies like Facebook and Google to actively monitor paid political ads for misleading statements and outright lies.

“We have truth in advertising for TV ads, we have truth in advertising for things people say on TV. The same standard should apply,” Harder said.

Democrat Ro Khanna agrees but says there are first amendment challenges.

“We can’t regulate speech to the point that it’s censorship. On the other hand, you don’t want blatant falsity getting viral,” Representative Ro Khanna, D-California, said. 

But tech industry insiders say there is a fine line between statements of fact and political promises and some social media companies say it’s not their role to judge which is which.

Carl Szabo is with the internet industry trade group, Net Choice.  

“Senator Warren has said her health care plan will not increase taxes on the middle class. Many studies have said this is impossible. President Trump announced the border wall will be paid for entirely by Mexico. Should those types of statements be removed?” Szabo said. 

Szabo says social media companies usually defer to free speech on their platforms and oppose legislation to put limits on political ads.

“Allow the voters to be the ones to decide whether a statement is true or false,” Szabo said.

Szabo says as the 2020 campaign approaches, he expects calls to regulate political ads to get louder. 

Twitter’s CEO has already announced ahead of the 2020 elections that it will no longer allow any paid political advertising on its platform.

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