During #SunshineWeek, Tester Sponsors Bipartisan Bill to Shine Light on Political Advertisements

Senator Backs Legislation to Hold Social Media Platforms Accountable, Increase Transparency

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced he is sponsoring a bill to shine light on digital advertising as part of his #SunshineWeek initiative to create more transparency and accountability in government and elections.

The Honest Ads Act will require disclaimers for online political ads identifying the source of funding. These disclaimers are currently required on television and newspaper ads, but not on social media platforms.

“Transparency makes our democracy stronger,” said Tester. “As more and more people turn to Facebook and Twitter, we must ensure they can trust the information. This bill will shine more light on our nation’s political process and hold folks accountable as they try and influence voters.”

The bipartisan Honest Ads Act:

  • Changes current Federal Election Commission advertising rules by leveling the playing field so digital and television ads are required to use the same disclaimers. 
  • Expands the definition of ‘electioneering communications‘ to include paid internet and digital communication.
  • Requires digital platforms with at least 50 million monthly viewers to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications purchased by a person or group who spends more than $500 on ads published on their platform. The file would contain a digital copy of the advertisement, a description of the audience the advertisement targets, the number of views generated, the dates and times of publication, the rates charged, and the contact information of the purchaser.

Facebook, which has over 210 million American users, acknowledged that between June 2015 and May 2017 Russian entities purchased roughly 3,000 digital ads linked to fake accounts. If implemented, the Honest Ads Act would require disclaimers disclosing the source of such ads.

Tester has been a longtime champion for accountability and transparency in campaign finance and advertising. In a recent Commerce Committee hearing, Tester called on executives at Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to shine light on who’s paying for advertisements on social media.

Tester has authored legislation to require Senate candidates to electronically file their campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission, something he does voluntarily.

Tester is cosponsoring a bill to require the IRS to make public the names of donors who give more than $5,000 to tax-exempt groups that engage in electioneering.

And Tester authored a constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people.