Social Media DISCLOSE Act Introduced by Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin

* AB 2188 Provides Crucial Disclosure on Ads on Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Other Online Platforms, Following Up on Historic California DISCLOSE Act Victory

By Press Release
California Clean Money Campaign, March 29th, 2018

SACRAMENTO, CA -- After rising national concerns about the lack of disclosure on political ads on social media and other online platforms, California will again lead the way to greater transparency with the launch of AB 2188, the Social Media DISCLOSE Act, authored by Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin.

AB 2188 expands on AB 249, the California DISCLOSE Act, passed last year, which was authored by Assemblymember Mullin and sponsored by the California Clean Money Campaign. AB 249 requires television, radio, and print ads about ballot measures, and independent expenditures about candidates, to clearly list their top 3 funders, using nation-leading earmarking rules to show the true funders even if they try to hide behind front groups. It also applies to electronic media ads, but advertisers can't show required disclosures on social media ads without changes from the social media platforms themselves.

"Although AB 249 gave California the strongest campaign finance disclosure law in the country, it may not have been clear that social media platforms are included in last year's legislation," Mullin said. "Since voters are inundated by political messages and advertising on so many fronts, AB 2188 will build on the improvements provided with AB 249 by extending those requirements to social media. I look forward to working with the California Clean Money Campaign and other good government groups on this important legislation."

An estimated $1.4 billion was spent on online political advertising nationally in 2016 according to Borrell Associates, an astounding 789% increase from 2012, with about 40% of it spent on social media ads. Virtually none of them disclosed who paid for them, including $100,000 in Facebook ads by Russian entities. The federal Honest Ads Act, sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar and co-sponsored by Senator John McCain, was introduced in response to this threat, but it's stuck in Congress.

Like the federal bill, AB 2188 requires Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other online platforms to keep a publicly accessible database of political ads and to require that ads show who paid for them. AB 2188 specifically requires online platforms to display "Who funded this ad?" on each political ad, linking to the page of the paying committee. Unlike the federal bill, AB 2188 will leverage last year's California DISCLOSE Act, now law, by requiring the paying committee page to clearly list its top 3 true funders.

"We are thrilled to be working with Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin on the Social Media DISCLOSE Act to build on our historic victory passing the California DISCLOSE Act together last year", said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign. "The huge grassroots movement of Californians who worked to pass AB 249 will be with him every step of the way to ensure that its nation-leading disclosure is extended to political ads on social media and other online platforms."

DISCLOSE is an acronym for Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections.

#####

The California Clean Money Campaign is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization that has been dedicated to educating the public about the need to lessen the unfair influence of Big Money on election campaigns since 2001. For further information, visit www.CAclean.org.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)