A look at how companies try to reach potential customers.

All the Ways Congress is Taking on the Tech Industry

In 2020, lawmakers have lots of ideas about how to regulate tech companies. New bills are introduced every day, creating a sea of regulatory threats that’s difficult to keep straight as time goes on. A majority of these measures will never make their way into a committee hearing, and even fewer will be signed into law. But taken as a whole, they give us a sense of what a major tech regulation bill might look like this Congress. And as the 2020 election season takes off, that picture is more urgent than ever.

There's no election law about social media disclosures — but there oughta be

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg broke no law when he paid campaign workers $2,500 a month to promote his candidacy from their personal social media accounts without requiring them to disclose this sponsorship. After Twitter suspended 70 of these accounts for “platform manipulation,” his campaign voluntarily asked its workers to identify themselves on their social media accounts.

Campaign Reformers Push Back on NAB Political Ad Ask

Campaign reform groups are telling the Federal Communications Commission to reject broadcasters' petition to 'clarify' the FCC's disclosure requirements for third-party political ads and follow the National Association of Broadcasters' "rationally tailored approach." NAB and others asked the FCC to narrow its definition of non-candidate ads on “any political matter of national importance" (i.e.

Trump campaign runs hundreds of misleading Facebook ads warning of Super Bowl censorship

President Donald Trump's reelection campaign has run more than 200 misleading political advertisements on Facebook in the past day claiming the "Fake News media" will attempt to block the campaign's upcoming Super Bowl ad — despite federal regulations that require the TV spot be aired.

Senator Wyden calls for an investigation of the ad-blocking industry

Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the ad-blocking industry for anti-competitive behavior. For years now, some of the largest tech firms have paid ad-blocking companies like Eyeo, which owns Adblock Plus, to avoid the software’s restrictions and have their ads displayed on devices. In 2015, a report showed that companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google were paying out ad blockers so that they could be added to a whitelist to avoid the software’s filters.

Google Chrome's privacy changes will hit the web later in 2020

Google's Chrome team, advancing its web privacy effort, later in 2020 will begin testing the "privacy sandbox" proposals it unveiled in 2019. The Chrome tests are part of an effort to make it harder for publishers, advertisers and data brokers to harvest your personal data without your permission and to track you online. Other browsers, including Apple's Safari, Brave Software's Brave, Mozilla's Firefox and Microsoft's new Chromium-based Edge, have pushed steadily to cut tracking for the last few years.

At the heart of Facebook’s rocky public position is the scale of its own power

By the end of the 2014 election, campaigns and political committees had directly spent about $8 million on Facebook advertising, less than half the amount they’d spent on Google. Through September of 2019, that figure neared $46 million, 50 percent more than what Google took in. And that’s only direct spending, excluding spending by political consultants on behalf of candidates or campaigns. In the 2016 campaign alone, Donald Trump’s team spent somewhere around $70 million on Facebook through a digital firm run by Brad Parscale, who is now Trump’s campaign manager. 

Twitter’s ban on political advertisements hurts our democracy

Twitter recently announced that it will no longer allow political advertisements on its digital platform. Implementation of this decision, if possible at all, will have dire consequences for American democracy. Defining a political advertisement is nearly impossible. And social media helps under-funded candidates. And Twitter's ban will not eliminate disinformation. 

Google fined ~$166 million by France over search ads

Autorité de la concurrence, France's competition authority, fined Google €150 million ($166 million) for abusing its dominant position in online advertising. At issue are the ads that appear next to search results. France's competition authority says that Google rules governing how and when advertisers can show their ads next to search results are applied in an "unfair and random manner."

Facebook will bar posts, ads that spread disinformation about the U.S. Census

Facebook will remove posts, photos and other content that mislead people about the US Census starting in 2020, aiming to prevent malicious actors from interfering in a critical, once-in-a-decade process that determines political representation. The new policies come as civil-rights leaders urge Facebook to act more aggressively against content that targets vulnerable communities, including people of color and immigrants, who may be most influenced by social-media misinformation about voting.