The Federal Election Commission (FEC), our nation’s independent regulatory agency whose purpose is to enforce campaign finance law, has been “gridlocked for years over rules that would be tailored to the booming online political ad industry. ” This, according to an article published in the LA Times dissecting the almost untamable social media market.
In their article “How microtargeted political ads are wreaking havoc on our elections” AP writers Barbara Ortutay and Amanda Seitz describe how the lack of uniform regulation allows Google, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, et al., to write their own rules about the publication of political ads on their sites. And advanced microtargeting technology essentially creates unique political messages for select demographics.
While the cost of social media marketing pales in comparison to traditional advertising, the anonymous and slippery nature of who is creating the political messaging mirrors the kind of murkiness associated with the “dark money” that has been infused into the political process by the Citizens United decision a decade ago.
The anonymity, lack of regulation, and multiplicity of targeted messages, create an eco-system ripe for chaos and misinformation. What might that mean for democracy, which depends on a common reality?
Could we be in free fall?