Facebook says it's not legally allowed to share everything it knows about advertisers, even political ones. But New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg thinks that if there’s enough political will, we’ll start to get a different story.
On the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka, Rutenberg talked about his recent column, “Facebook Knows More About Russia’s Election Meddling. Shouldn’t We?” and why political ads on social media are so different from all other forms of media.
“Television stations have to keep records that literally anyone in the public can see, in windows close to elections, who bought ads,” Rutenberg said. “Maybe who bought it is ‘Citizens for Blue Skies,’ and you have to figure out who they are, but there’s a record of this. And there’s talk now about making social media properly accountable for this kind of advertising.”
Rutenberg predicted that because people of all political stripes have some reason to be wary of Silicon Valley, we may soon see Congress breathing down the necks of Facebook, Google, Amazon and their peers.
“In this political era, conventional wisdom is continually turned upside down, but it definitely seems like there’s a pretty wide political will to make sure there’s more transparency, in terms of political activity,” Rutenberg said. “And that goes up the chain in terms of a lot of Silicon Valley companies, issues about regulation and alleged monopoly or duopoly power. The trajectory seems pretty set.”
Rutenberg also talked about his other recent Russia-related story, a profile of the country’s semi-covert information war against American interests. He traveled to Russia to profile how outlets like the Kremlin-run cable channel Russia Today are reaching into the U.S.
“Over the years, it’s also found a place, it has found an audience here,” Rutenberg said of RT. “On the left, maybe with the Occupy Movement, and on the right, it is at home with Alex Jones, sometimes, and he’s frequently been on their air. Early on, especially — they say they’re cutting it out — they would do 9/11 truthers, give them some airtime.”
“It’s often about playing off the fringes, and it’s finding its place in the outer poles of our political debate,” he added.
And don’t miss the rest of this Recode Media episode. Kafka also spoke to Simulmedia CEO Dave Morgan about when TV ads will start behaving more like internet ads.
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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.