With officials from Facebook, Google and Twitter testifying before Congress about Russia’s use of social media to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic has penned an op-ed for Rolling Stone calling for more transparency in political advertising.
“When it comes to political advertising, disclosure of who is disseminating information — fake or otherwise — can mitigate the negative effects on voters,” Novoselic writes. “Full disclosure of the actual individuals contributing money — not front groups — also should apply to every kind of federal electioneering.”
The musician says he support the Honest Ads Act, which would require social media companies to share information regarding who is paying for political ads. However, Novoselic is skeptical that the bill will actually pass, so, as a Google shareholder, he’s filed a resolution “asking the company to report in a comprehensive, serious way on the threat posed by so-called fake news and election interference and how they intend to deal with it.”
“While we can’t count on Congress to pass laws promoting transparency, there is another kind of law that Google and Facebook can’t ignore: the law of the marketplace,” Novoselic writes. “If Facebook and Google become dumpster fires of disinformation, their user base could disappear as quickly as it appeared.”
He continues, “So, obviously, Congress should pass the Honest Ads Act to promote more transparent political discourse and a healthier democracy.”
Krist adds, “But shareholders should also urge social media companies to comprehensively address the corrupting influence of ‘fake news’ and the threat it poses to the continued viability of their business models — which are entirely dependent on advertising.”
Novoselic is the Board Chair for electoral reform organization FairVote. He currently plays in the band Giants in the Trees.
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