Regulators Spar over Whether Unregulated Internet Harms Minorities

By Takala, Rudy | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, September 27, 2016 | Go to article overview

Regulators Spar over Whether Unregulated Internet Harms Minorities


Takala, Rudy, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


Regulators on the Federal Election Commission are at odds over whether unregulated speech on social media could harm minorities by causing them to feel excluded.

"Where will government micromanagement of political speech on the Internet stop? Can't we have one forum for free speech the government doesn't need to censor?" Republican Commissioner Lee Goodman told the Washington Examiner.

His comments were a response to Monday remarks by one of Goodman's colleagues, Democratic Commissioner Ann Ravel, at the National Press Club, in which she said "microtargeting" online was allowing political advertisers to ignore minorities.

"People will say, 'Well, who do you want to reach?' " Ravel asked. "They'll say 'Well, I want to reach white women between 20 and 24. And then those groups use social media just to address those particular people.

"Which means it's exclusionary," Ravel said. "That's how social media has been used now for advertising on Facebook and other places. ... You're not targeting the vast number of people who are not likely voters and who have not contributed."

She added that those being excluded were generally minorities. "Most of them are middle to lower class. They're people with lower income. They're Hispanics, they're African Americans, and they do not target them."

Ravel, a former deputy assistant attorney general for consumer litigation at the Justice Department, has for years argued in favor of regulating political speech on the Web. She succeeded to some extent in California during her 2011-13 tenure as chair of the state's Fair Political Practices Commission, implementing a rule that required bloggers to disclose whether they received $500 or more from a political campaign.

Efforts by Ravel and other Democrats to impose similar regulations using the FEC have met with more resistance. …

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Regulators Spar over Whether Unregulated Internet Harms Minorities
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