The recent rise of social media has acted as a breeding ground for political mis/disinformation, as false information goes viral and impacts the public’s assessment of candidates and campaigns. The failure to effectively regulate online political advertising has already altered elections throughout the world, and remains a serious threat to democracy in the United States.
Over the last several years, the proliferation of mis/disinformation in online political advertisements in the US has hamstrung the public’s ability to accurately assess candidates, campaigns, and world events. Online political ads, which tend to be more partisan and less informative than television ads, comprise a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry, but the US has few laws that govern their content or dissemination. While regulatory institutions like the Federal Election Commission (FEC) offer guidelines, big tech companies and social media platforms are frequently granted exemptions, resulting in a system of unchecked but highly influential political messaging.
In Beyond Transparency: Regulating Online Political Advertising, Anya Schiffrin surveys the impact of online political ads on election outcomes, examines the current regulatory landscape in the US and in Europe around mis/disinformation online, and proposes a set of policy solutions to curb the spread of false information, enhance disclosure requirements for paid political communications, strengthen privacy regulations, and restore transparency to political messaging in the US.