Bloomberg: Facebook Fought Rules That Could Have Exposed Fake Russian Ads


Since 2011, Facebook has asked the Federal Election Commission for blanket exemptions from political advertising disclosure rules -- transparency that could have helped it avoid the current crisis over Russian ad spending ahead of the 2016 U.S. election. 


“Facebook just did not help,” said Adav Noti, senior director of trial litigation and strategy at the Campaign Legal Center, who was an in-house lawyer at the FEC at the time. “They weren’t taking a middle ground, they just thought nothing they did should be subject to the disclaimer requirements.”


In a rare act of unanimity, all current FEC commissioners voted Tuesday to reopen public comments about the Facebook disclaimer rule. This time, it will be difficult for Facebook to argue it should be exempt, according to Noti.

“The fact that Facebook took the hard-line position that they should be exempt from disclosure while this activity was going on doesn’t reflect well on Facebook,” he said. “They would do well to adopt a more constructive position in terms of furthering the public interest to know who’s paying for this advertising.”

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