Social media companies have pretty much been operating without any outside regulation for years; that could be on the verge of changing pretty soon — at least when it comes to political ads.
Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner are working on a bill that would make tech companies release details on who is buying political ads. The bill and the conversation around it are obviously a response to Russia's use of political ads on social media to meddle in the 2016 election.
The bill isn't out yet and the senators say they're working with the Federal Election Commission to get the "language right first," but they did lay out a proposal last month as a starting point. That proposal would create a database of ads bought by anyone who spent more than $10,000 online. It would also store the ad content and which audience was the target.
Now, they just have to get Republicans on board. Which might be easier than once thought. Key members of the GOP like Sens. Susan Collins, James Lankford and even John McCain seem to be warming up to the idea.
McCain said we need "full disclosure," adding, "Kremlin-backed advertisements are just one element of Vladimir Putin's long-term goal of undermining democracies around the world."
More regulation of online political ads is a conversation that has been swirling for years. Social media has expanded and those sites aren't just connecting us to our old high school crushes. Just last month, the FEC said it would reopen public comment as it looks to regulate the online space.
Social media companies tend to want to stay unregulated and fight the kinds of transparency lawmakers like to impose but, at least when it comes to this issue, that is also changing. Twitter has said it's open to the discussion but Facebook has gone even further, putting out its own rules for ad disclosure and creating new positions to work on it.