A right-wing Senate candidate accompanies a squad of heavily armed men as they storm a home looking for ‘Republicans in name only.’
The number of firearms in the U.S. is outpacing the country’s population, as an emboldened gun industry and its allies target buyers with rhetoric of fear, machismo and defiance.
A survey by election researchers argues that efforts to confuse or scare away prospective voters disproportionately target minority groups in battleground states.
With the June 28 primary fast approaching, candidates for governor are spending big to get their message out to voters.
Democratic candidates are all-but scripting ads for super PACs and dark-money groups to do their bidding — in plain sight.
The Club for Growth has lined up behind Josh Mandel. Donald J. Trump and his eldest son, Donald Jr., are backing J.D. Vance. Tuesday’s outcome will be a crucial test of the former president’s sway.
Republicans are far more energized about the issues of elections and voting, powered by a former president and many base voters who believe the 2020 contest was illegitimate.
The Republican Senate candidate’s financial disclosure statement depicts a wealthy man comfortable walking the halls of power.
The Democrats’ House Majority PAC is spending nearly $102 million to reserve advertising time in 51 media markets, staking out a broad battlefield for the coming midterm elections.
Two Republican Senate candidates field-test a new message honed in the cable-news studio.
Criticism of Russia has become a common feature of advertisements and the marketing industry.
Google, Meta, Twitter, Telegram and others are levers in the conflict, caught between demands from Ukraine, Russia, the European Union and the U.S.
Andrew Cuomo’s still-active campaign spent $369,000 to recast the sexual harassment case against him, pushing a narrative that he was driven out of office by “political attacks.”
A New York Times analysis reveals how the left outdid the right at raising and spending millions from undisclosed donors to defeat Donald Trump and win power in Washington.
How an inside joke among Republicans became one candidate’s tactic for reaching the G.O.P. masses.
Meta announced changes to its ad-targeting policies, but they will do little to stop campaigns from reaching specific voters.
He lost both legs and an arm in the war. Republicans impugned his patriotism by linking him to Osama bin Laden in an infamous TV spot.
A Republican ad featured a mother who had tried to have “Beloved” banned from her son’s curriculum. Democrats saw a coded racist message.
Company documents show that the social network’s employees repeatedly raised red flags about the spread of misinformation and conspiracies before and after the contested November vote.
Democrats have made giving government the power to negotiate drug prices a central campaign theme for decades. With the power to make it happen, they may fall short yet again.
The downfall of Austria’s onetime political Wunderkind put a spotlight on the cozy, sometimes corrupt, relationship between right-wing populists and parts of the news media.
In a governor’s race deemed a bellwether for the 2022 midterms, the battle between Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin has ignited over national cultural issues.
The Democratic nominee for New York City mayor used the 30-second ad to tell his personal story, stressing his commitment to affordable housing.
Business interests are using ads and other efforts to cajole Democrats to change or kill a $3.5 trillion social policy bill.
With victory nearly assured, Mr. Adams has amassed a substantial war chest ahead of the general election for New York City mayor. His opponent lags far behind.
The messages take aim at Democrats by name as part of a broad effort to undermine landmark climate legislation that now hangs in the balance in Congress.
Facebook is looking to create a standalone advisory committee for election-related policy decisions, according to a new report from The New York Times. The company has reportedly approached a number of policy experts and academics it is interested in recruiting for the group, which could give the company cover for some of its most consequential choices.
The group, which the Times characterizes as a commission, would potentially be empowered to weigh in on issues like election misinformation and political advertising — two of Facebook’s biggest policy headaches. Facebook reportedly plans for the commission to be in place for the 2022 U.S. midterm elections and could announce its formation as soon as this fall.
Facebook’s election commission could be modeled after the Oversight Board, the company’s first experiment in quasi-independent external decision making. The Oversight Board began reviewing cases in October of last year, but didn’t gear up in time to impact the flood of election misinformation that swept the platform during the U.S. presidential election. Initially, the board could only make policy rulings based on material that was already removed from Facebook.
The company touts the independence of the Oversight Board, and while it does operate independently, Facebook created the group and appointed its four original co-chairs. The Oversight Board is able to set policy precedents and make binding per-case moderation rulings, but ultimately its authority comes from Facebook itself, which at any point could decide to ignore the board’s decisions.
A similar external policy-setting body focused on elections would be very politically useful for Facebook. The company is a frequent target for both Republicans and Democrats, with the former claiming Facebook censors conservatives disproportionately and the latter calling attention to Facebook’s long history of incubating conspiracies and political misinformation.
Neither side was happy when Facebook decided to suspend political advertising after the election — a gesture that failed to address the exponential spread of organic misinformation. Facebook asked the Oversight Board to review its decision to suspend former President Trump, though the board ultimately kicked its most controversial case back to the company itself.
The social network has contacted academics to create a group to advise it on thorny election-related decisions, said people with knowledge of the matter.
Facebook’s decision to close accounts connected to a misinformation research project last week prompted a broad outcry from the company’s critics — and now Congress is getting involved.
A handful of lawmakers criticized the decision at the time, slamming Facebook for being hostile toward efforts to make the platform’s opaque algorithms and ad targeting methods more transparent. Researchers believe that studying those hidden systems is crucial work for gaining insight on the flow of political misinformation.
The company specifically punished two researchers with NYU’s Cybersecurity for Democracy project who work on Ad Observer, an opt-in browser tool that allows researchers to study how Facebook targets ads to different people based on their interests and demographics.
In a new letter, embedded below, a trio of Democratic senators are pressing Facebook for more answers. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Mark Warner (D-VA) wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking for a full explanation on why the company terminated the researcher accounts and how they violated the platform’s terms of service and compromised user privacy. The lawmakers sent the letter on Friday.
“While we agree that Facebook must safeguard user privacy, it is similarly imperative that Facebook allow credible academic researchers and journalists like those involved in the Ad Observatory project to conduct independent research that will help illuminate how the company can better tackle misinformation, disinformation, and other harmful activity that is proliferating on its platforms,” the senators wrote.
Lawmakers have long urged the company to be more transparent about political advertising and misinformation, particularly after Facebook was found to have distributed election disinformation in 2016. Those concerns were only heightened by the platform’s substantial role in spreading election misinformation leading up to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where Trump supporters attempted to overturn the vote.
In a blog post defending its decision, Facebook cited compliance with FTC as one of the reason the company severed the accounts. But the FTC called Facebook’s bluff last week in a letter to Zuckerberg, noting that nothing about the agency’s guidance for the company would preclude it from encouraging research in the public interest.
“Indeed, the FTC supports efforts to shed light on opaque business practices, especially around surveillance-based advertising,” Samuel Levine, the FTC’s acting director for the Bureau of Consumer Protection, wrote.
In the Cleveland area, a bitter primary election is pitting the left against the Democratic establishment. Near Columbus, a Trump-endorsed candidate faces a crowded Republican field.
Priorities USA, one of the largest liberal super PACs, is hoping to counteract Republican-driven voting restrictions through both digital ad campaigns and legal efforts.
Ultrawealthy donors have given $16 million to super PACs dedicated to the New York City mayor’s race. Half of that money has gone to three moderate candidates.
In 2013, the animal rights leaders helped undermine the mayoral campaign of Christine Quinn, boosting the chances of the eventual winner, Bill de Blasio.
TikTok announced a ban on political advertising all the way back in 2019. So you’d be forgiven for thinking the ugly problem of democracy-denting political disinformation doesn’t apply inside its walled garden of dancing Gen Zers. But you’d be wrong.
New research by Mozilla suggests that policy loopholes and lax oversight, especially around influencer marketing, coupled with an ongoing lack of ads transparency by TikTok — which offers no publicly searchable ad archive — are making its video-sharing platform vulnerable to passing off political ads as organic content.
Mozilla says it found over a dozen instances of TikTok influencers across the political spectrum who were being paid (or otherwise compensated) by a variety of political organizations to promote partisan messages without disclosing that these posts were sponsored.
“Our research found that TikTok influencers across the political spectrum had undisclosed paid relationships with various political organizations in the U.S.,” it writes. “Several right-wing TikTok influencers appear to be funded by conservative
organizations like Turning Point USA, a tax-exempt nonprofit which has a dedicated influencer program specifically targeted at funding young conservative content creators on social media.”
It similarly found evidence of left-leaning sponsored political messaging being spread without proper disclosures by TikTok influencers, noting that: “We found some evidence that progressive influencers supported by left-leaning political organizations were posting pro-Biden messages prior to the U.S. presidential election. For instance, The 99 Problems created and funded the Hype House account House of US, where influencers post political messaging.”
In the report, Th€se Are Not Po£itical Ad$: How Partisan Influencers Are Evading TikTok’s Weak Political Ad Policies, Mozilla calls out the platform for not offering adequate tools for ‘influencers’ — aka users who have amassed a large enough number of followers to become attractive targets for advertisers to target for making paid postings — to report sponsorships, pointing out that other major social media platforms (like Facebook/Instagram) do offer such tools and can flag influencer content if they’re found failing to properly report ads.
“Of course, it’s hard to know exactly how self-disclosure ad policies are being enforced across platforms but TikTok is significantly far behind Instagram and YouTube when it comes to providing tools and enacting clear, strict, and transparent policies,” Mozilla writes in the report.
Per TikTok’s rules, content creators are supposed to self-identify any paid content (typically by using the hashtag #ad or #sponsored), in keeping with U.S. Federal Trade Commission guidelines for the disclosure of paid influence.
But, as Mozilla points out, if TikTok isn’t actively monitoring or scrutinizing influencer ads (as the report suggests) it raises an obvious concern over how the platform can claim to be enforcing its “trust and safety” protocols.
Mozilla’s report also points to rumours that TikTok is testing features that will allow influencers to pay to further promote specific posts — which could dial up the ‘dark money’ political disinformation problem further, i.e. if not combined with active policing and enforcement of sponsorship disclosures.
“There do not appear to be any safeguards preventing creators from using this feature to promote paid political messages,” it warns. “It is unclear how TikTok is monitoring this content to ensure that it complies with their political ad policy.”
Another major criticism in the report is the general lack of ads transparency by TikTok vs other social platforms — with Mozilla’s report pointing out that it does not offer public, searchable ad databases as others (including Facebook/Instagram, Snap, and Google/YouTube) do. Twitter has also had a searchable ads archive since 2018.
“Mozilla believes Facebook and Google are doing a poor job on ad transparency, so the fact that TikTok can’t match even them is troubling,” the report notes.
In recommendations to TikTok (or to policymakers shaping laws aimed at preventing abuse of such platforms) Mozilla suggests that it needs to develop specific mechanisms for content creators to disclose partnerships; invest in comprehensive advertising transparency, including launching an ad database which includes paid partnerships (not just native platform ads); and update its policies and enforcement processes to cover all the ways that paid political influence can happen on its platform.
TikTok was contacted with questions on its approach to ads transparency and sponsored content. It sent this statement:
“Political advertising is not allowed on TikTok, and we continue to invest in people and technology to consistently enforce this policy and build tools for creators on our platform. As we evolve our approach we appreciate feedback from experts, including researchers at the Mozilla Foundation, and we look forward to a continuing dialogue as we work to develop equitable policies and tools that promote transparency, accountability, and creativity.”
There are signs that TikTok is trying to get ahead of criticisms in the report — as Mozilla’s researcher, Becca Ricks, notes that the company has very recently (“within the past week”) created a branded content policy.
“It includes mention of a ‘branded content toggle‘ to help influencers disclose paid partnerships,” she went on, adding: “We’re currently analyzing the feature to learn more. But we’re cautiously optimistic that this could be a (small) step in the right direction, especially after we raised these issues directly with TikTok two weeks ago in the course of our research.
“That said, Mozilla’s other recommendations — and the entirety of the problems we uncovered in the research — remain. So TikTok has a long road to being truly transparent.”
Mozilla’s report is just the latest black cloud to fall over TikTok’s platform which is under pressure on a variety of fronts related to its content and wider policies, including around ad disclosures.
Last week, EU regulators kicked off what they couched as a formal “dialogue” with TikTok following a number of complaints by consumer protection groups which have accused the platform of hidden marketing, aggressive advertising techniques targeted at children and misleading and confusing contractual terms.
Other regional complaints have called out TikTok’s approach to privacy and user data. And it’s being sued in the UK over its handling of children’s data.
Concerns over weak age verification also led to an intervention by Italy’s data protection regulator earlier this year — acting on concerns for the safety of underage users. In that case TikTok was forced to remove over half a million accounts which were suspected of being used by children younger than 13.
In recent months TikTok has been trying to burnish its image with policymakers, announcing what it bills as a ‘Transparency Center’ in the U.S. last year — and another for Europe this April — saying these centers would provide a space for outside experts to access information about its content moderation and security policies.
However Mozilla said the centers suffer from a lack transparency vis-a-vis ads, writing in the report that they “do not provide detailed transparency regarding advertisements”, and specifying TikTok does not disclose specific data about “how many or which ads were rejected under TikTok’s ban on political advertisements”, for example.
TikTok’s opacity arounds ads looks to be on borrowed time as the issue of online political ads transparency is coming into sharper focus around the world.
In the U.S. a bipartisan bill to try to regulate online platforms that sell ads was introduced in 2017 — although progress stalled as the bill failed to pass ahead of the 2019 US presidential election.
In Europe lawmakers are expected to put forward a regulatory proposal this fall that will tighten ad disclosure and reporting requirements on platforms, as part of a wider package of digital reforms that aim to drive safety, transparency and accountability.
Mr. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, has called money the “enemy of politics.” But his fund-raising has repeatedly pushed the boundaries of campaign-finance and ethics laws.
Facebook has increasingly become one of the most vital weapons in a political campaign’s arsenal, and few had tapped into its potential for advertising and fund-raising as aggressively as Mr. Trump’s.
A sexual harassment allegation against Scott Stringer may open a lane in the New York City mayor’s race for Ms. Garcia, a former sanitation commissioner.
Clive Palmer was ordered to pay more than $1 million for using “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in his party’s political advertising.
As the candidates seek to attract voters’ attention, an ad for Scott Stringer says he is the candidate best suited to lead the “city’s greatest comeback.”
Mr. McGuire has landed endorsements from Representative Gregory W. Meeks and three hip-hop giants as his campaign for New York mayor enters a crucial phase.
The expansive measure would set a nationwide floor on ballot access, nullify many voting restrictions, change the way political districts are drawn and rein in campaign donations.
The social network had prohibited political ads on its site indefinitely after the November election. Such ads have been criticized for spreading misinformation.
The social network had prohibited political ads on its site indefinitely after the November election. Such ads have been criticized for spreading misinformation.
The questions are bigger than whether Trump should have been suspended.
The core business model of platforms like Facebook and Twitter poses a threat to society and requires retooling, an economist says.
Gwen Carr said she was endorsing Ray McGuire because his financial background could help him lead New York’s recovery and make the city a “safer place.”
News feeds will start getting less political content in Canada, Brazil and Indonesia, the social network said, with the change reaching the U.S. in coming weeks.
Shaun Donovan, a former White House budget director, is rolling out his TV ad campaign and hoping his background in Washington will help him emerge from a crowded pack of candidates.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has started a $500,000 effort on television and online portraying House Republicans as aligned with Marjorie Taylor Greene and QAnon conspiracy theories.
With breathless, often misleading appeals, the former president promised small donors that he was using the money to fight the election results, but in fact stored much of it for future use.