thoughts and links

Facebook: Our ads too small for political disclosure

Facebook sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission asking to make sure that the site’s small ads would not to include disclosures. Facebook cited FEC decisions that say pens, bumper stickers and, probably more relevant, Google ads don’t require disclosure.

The company argues that including a disclaimer in Facebook ads would be “inconvenient and impracticable” and argue they should be exempt under the FEC’s “small items” and “impracticable” exceptions.

Federal regulations require that public communications identifies the person or persons who paid for that communication as well as the person or persons who authorized the communication. But the FEC has allowed for exceptions in certain types of communications including pens, bumper stickers, campaign pins, campaign buttons, skywriting, clothing and water towers.

"In the vast majority of these mediums - e.g. television, radio, billboards, magazines, newspapers, and e-mail - it is not inconvenient or impracticable to include a disclaimer," lawyers for the company argue. "With some mediums, however - e.g. bumper stickers, buttons, pens, t-shirts, concert tickets, and text messages - it is inconvenient or impracticable to include a disclaimer."

"Significantly, many of the items specifically enumerated in the ‘small items’ exemption are small because of consumer demand, rather than technological limits. The size of bumper stickers and buttons, for example, are not limited by technology," they argue.

Interesting. I wouldn’t expect the FEC to oppose this.