Jeff Patch has a must-read account of the latest affront to unfettered speech on the Internet. The Federal Election Commission on Wednesday denied a request by the social-media website Facebook that would have allowed the company to sell advertising space to candidates and political parties without requiring the ads to contain a lengthy disclaimer stating who paid for the ad. Because Facebook ads are so small, the ruling makes them far less practical, in turn making it harder for poorly funded candidates to use Facebook as a cheap way to reach out to voters.
Facebook had argued that their ads should be treated like campaign pens or buttons, which are exempt from the disclaimer requirement. That wasn’t a bad argument, considering the FEC had ruled less than a year ago that short ads on Google were not required to contain a full disclaimer. But as Patch reports, the three Democratic Commissioners weren’t buying it this time:
“The Internet is nothing like pens and buttons. It has a range of fabulous capabilities,” said [FEC] Commissioner Ellen Weintraub. “My Facebook app on my phone is really smart . . . I will get a chime telling me that my daughter poked me.”
In the end, the FEC denied Facebook’s request by a deadlocked 3-3 vote along party lines. For the whole story, check out Patch’s great write-up in the Daily Caller.