By: Savannah Smith | 04-18-2017 | News
Photo credit: university of chicago | flickr

Former FEC Chair Wants to Regulate Political Speech Online

Former Federal Election Commission chairwoman Ann M. Ravel said that " fake news" should be regulated by controlling political speech on social media.

Ravel spoke in an event called "Future of Democracy" and said that the spread of " fake news" and political advertising on social media platforms like Facebook influenced the elections. She also said that the lack of disclosure by the creators of such campaigns was turning into a huge problem.

Ravel said that so much campaign has moved to the internet, both supposedly fake news or outright advertising, yet there is little or no regulation governing them.

The former FEC chairwoman also shared the prediction that by 2020 most of the advertising is going to move from television to the internet. She said that such a serious issue should warrant a lot of discussions.

During her stint with FEC, Ravel asked for right-leaning websites like the Drudge Report to be"regulated".

She got strong responses but blamed those she felt as "hostile" feedback towards her proposal on "misogyny". She also said it was within the duties of the FEC to oversee internet political activities, including the airing of political viewpoints.

In 2015, the Democrats already tried but failed to expand the FEC's regulatory powers to cover social media posts and other forms of political speech on the internet, which are not yet subject to the same scrutiny as political advertisements on traditional media like television, radio, and newspapers. During that time, so-called liberal watchdogs complained to the FEC with allegations that then probable presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Martin O' Malley were going around finance laws to the campaign.

Conservatives managed to delay the vote, arguing that the additional powers would have a chilling effect on political speech on the internet.

Ravel has become more aggressive with her push for political advertising to be controlled on the internet. In her speech at UC Berkeley, Ravel claimed that companies like Facebook have

"no real knowledge" of who sponsors the posts of numerous political viewpoints on their platforms. She said the serious issue need to be addressed.

Ravel's push for more regulation may face challenges from advocates of free speech, and from conservatives who may argue that expanding the powers of the FEC translates to government overreach.


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