California Legislature Sends “Social Media DISCLOSE Act” to Governor

California, campaign finance, elections, political advertising

On September 12, California Gov. Jerry Brown was presented with a bill concerning political advertising in social media.

Assembly Bill 2188, the “Social Media DISCLOSE Act”, requires disclosure for advertisements made “via a form of electronic media that allows users to engage in discourse and post content, or any other type of social media”, and is paid for by a political party or a candidate-controlled committee. The disclosure obligations fall on both the registered political parties and committees and on the “online platforms.”

The online platform must maintain and make available for online public inspection a digital copy of a political advertisement, the number of impressions generated from the ad, information regarding the total amount spent on the advertisements, and other relevant information.

The bill defines an online platform as a “public-facing Internet Web site, web application, or digital application, including a social network, ad network, or search engine, that sells advertisements directly to advertisers. A public-facing Internet Web site, web application, or digital application is not an online platform for purposes of this [Act] to the extent that it displays advertisements that are sold directly to advertisers through another online platform.” The online platforms will be required to include with each political advertisement a disclosure of who funded the ad or a hyperlink to a website containing the required disclosures.

If signed by the governor, the bill takes effect on January 1, 2020.