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Facebook Won’t Be Sent To The Gulag Over Russian Ads

Amid the widespread furor over the spread of Russian propaganda on Facebook and other platforms, several U.S. senators yesterday introduced a bill–the Honest Ads Act –that seeks to require the disclosure of who pays for political ads on social media. The proposed legislation is being seen by many as one of the first tangible attempts to rein in Facebook after weeks of intense coverage and criticism of the role played by the social media giant during last year’s election. And some are hoping Mark Zuckerberg’s company will have to grapple with the  consequences of the new legislation and likely new rules and regulations, especially the prospect of a significant hit to its bottom line. Don’t believe it, argue numerous experts contacted by Fast Company . Most likely, even Facebook’s worst-case scenario would be little more than a slap on the wrist, and probably nothing that would put even a mild dent in its profits. And you can thank widespread cynicism and self-interest in the halls of Congress for that, they say. The controversy first erupted in early September, when Facebook revealed it had discovered more than $100,000 worth of ads purchased by Russians between 2015 and 2017 that in some cases were targeted at voters in U.S. swing districts and “ appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum .” Immediately, members of Congress, led by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) began to call for Facebook to explain how it had allowed Russians to leverage its platform to interfere in the U.S. presidential election. Those calls have only intensified in recent weeks, especially as more details have emerged about the ads–their incendiary content, the fact that  Trump-supporting Facebook employees were embedded in his presidential campaign, and that the Russian efforts extended to Facebook-owned Instagram . Facebook reacted by, among other things, committing to hire 1,000 people for increased manual review of ads, offering some transparency on the contents of the ads purchased by Russians, and disclosing which pages paid for political ads , as well as making it possible to easily visit that page and see what other ads it’s running. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) looks on as Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) speaks during a press conference to introduce the Honest Ads Act on Capitol Hill on October 19, 2017, in Washington, D.C. [Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images] Not Everyone’s Satisfied Those steps may have calmed some of the anti-Facebook fervor, but it hasn’t satisfied everyone

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Facebook Won’t Be Sent To The Gulag Over Russian Ads

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