Understanding and Regulating Online Political Ads

The “digital revolution” as many people refer to is upon us. More specifically, it is making a major impact on politics and experts are on the fence about it.. The internet could be both a boon and a burden for political campaigns, so let’s take a deeper look at it below. 

The internet is in no way constrained, this could help make political ads more instantaneous and transparent than ever. Moreover, social marketing gives political ads the power to micro target their audiences and make campaigns more personalized. It would also give multiple platforms for ads to be broadcasted from Facebook posts to YouTube ads, search engine results, sponsored tweets and Instagram posts and more. All of these platforms can bring the politicians closer to their audience. Since all of these are going to be regulated by private organizations, they can set up their own rules for sharing and transparency. If done right, the voters could get a completely transparent view of the campaign. 

Most people are in favor of transparency and personalized marketing. The problem is that there is no governing body for Facebook, Twitter and many other social media websites. Moreover, the internet allows for anonymity and as hard as the current governing bodies try, there is no way to get rid of it. Anyone can hijack any campaign at any time and this is a scary scenario for anyone with a public following.

Major social media sites have regulations and rules in place to ban certain behavior and hate speech. The problem is that most of these rules apply for commercial content, and  might not be up to the mark when it comes to political ads. This could easily be misused to marginalize topics and ads that do not fit popular opinion. Alternately,. someone like Trump could never advertise on these platforms and be as open as he is in his current speeches as they are against regulations. This is another misleading factor to consider. 

With TV becoming less relevant with time, all eyes are now on social media,. Authorities are now faced with the task of deciding whether political ads should have their own regulations compared to commercial ads. At the end of the day, regulations that hinder transparency need to be removed, but to what extent is dependent on too many factors to be a straightforward decision.

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