Will Political Ads On Google Need To Include: 'This Ad Paid For By...

from the and-not-much-else dept

Lots of politicians have made use of Google for advertising via keyword-based text ads. However, a mayoral candidate in St. Petersburg, Florida recently ran into trouble when the Florida Elections Commission ordered him to take down his ads and pay a $250 fine for not including a "this ad paid for by..."-type disclaimer, despite the fact that the "required" text of the disclaimer is greater than the 68 characters that you can fit into a Google ad.

The link above goes on to talk about other similar situations -- and notes that many of the local Elections Commissions making decisions on these things are made up of more elderly folks (often retired judges) who don't have the greatest understanding of these new-fangled technology whatchamacallits. It seems like we're going to go through an uncomfortable transition period as these Elections Commissions begin to understand how the web works, and the idea that pretty much anyone can create content online -- rather than just the "professionals." What would have happened, for instance, if it hadn't been the candidate or his campaign that bought the ad in the first place... but a fan?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 19th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    Uh...

    My understanding is that wasn't really the issue. My local paper reported that the real reason they were going after him was because he had it so that this ads came up whenever you googled the names of the people running against him....

     

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    Rabbit80 (profile), Oct 19th, 2009 @ 3:19pm

    I would welcome it if all ads on google had that.... I'm sick of people being caught out by hoaxes and scams through Google ads.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 3:21pm

    Perhaps it would be better if Google didn't accept political ads?

    Perhaps they could make special google ads that would be 68 characters PLUS a disclaimer space?

    Speaking of which Mike, how are you going to handle the changes on December 1st?

     

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  4.  
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    marius, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 3:21pm

    well...

    well... they could use image ads, something like 728x90 or 468x60 banners and use 7point points saying on the corner "This ad sponsored by..."

    It's still a bit silly but possible.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 3:29pm

    Perhaps just a blanket disclaimer of "This ad paid for by future lobbyist-bribe-taker."

     

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    Call me Al (profile), Oct 19th, 2009 @ 3:33pm

    "It seems like we're going to go through an uncomfortable transition period as these Elections Commissions begin to understand how the web works"

    Sadly I expect it will be more a case of waiting till they die. In my, admittedly limited, experience of the elderly they either embrace technology or are luddites. If they are the latter then there isn't a hope they will adapt.

     

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  7.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 19th, 2009 @ 3:48pm

    Re:

    Speaking of which Mike, how are you going to handle the changes on December 1st?

    Nothing in the changes impacts us. We've always disclosed more than is even in those guidelines.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Spanky, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 4:07pm

    re

    Ban political ads anywhere an adequate disclaimer can't be provided.

    Actually, just ban all political advertising. It does no one any good, and creates an obstacle to public office for those that aren't wealthy.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 4:34pm

    the "required" text of the disclaimer is greater than the 68 characters that you can fit into a Google ad.

    Then maybe politicians shouldn't use Google ads.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 4:40pm

    Re: well...

    It's still a bit silly but possible.

    Umm, Google ads are text only.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 4:44pm

    Re:

    Hi, are you the knee, or the jerk? I think I know.

     

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  12.  
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    Harry, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 4:55pm

    Similar issue happened with the pharmas

    The pharmas got in trouble for a similar issue where they didn't have their disclaimer in the text link. Obviously, there's no way to fit that into a text ad. Originally they thought having the disclaimer on the destination page was enough but this is now questionable. So, now, you have the banner display ads that then scroll the long disclaimers after.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 4:57pm

    Re: Re:

    "Hi, are you the knee, or the jerk? I think I know."

    Given the limited field of view of the typical asshole, I guess it must be a little hard for you to tell sometimes.

     

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    Gregory, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 7:58pm

    Ah hem... 1st Amendment

    Political speech is protected speech. McCain-Feingold was bad law and needs to be repealed.

    As for this specific instance... it's a freaking text ad, for crying out loud. If that's enough to sway someone's vote, that someone really shouldn't be voting in the first place.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2009 @ 8:52pm

    Re:

    So you favor a structure where only politicians that take huge campaign contributions from corporations can get their message out (ie: via mainstream media) but the rest of the politicians that don't can't?

     

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    Ben, Oct 20th, 2009 @ 12:29am

    If I was him I would not really care if my ad cost 250 bucks more. The amount of coverage makes it worth it. I know people ignore ads online a lot but he took it out hopefully knowing that. Good investment on his part I think. $250 bones, that makes me laugh.

     

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    Elpookie, Oct 20th, 2009 @ 5:23am

    The disclosure law is there for the primary reason that it promotes transparency as to who or what is behind a political add. The fact that we have this "newfangled" thing does not take away from the need for disclosure. The tail should not be allowed to wag the dog mearly because these old folks do not understand the workings of new tech.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 20th, 2009 @ 7:37am

    So because Google ads have character limits, politicians get a pass? Seems like a business problem, not a legal problem.

    Google doesn't have room for the disclaimer then maybe they shouldn't use Google for political ads.

     

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  19.  
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    Toronto Poster, Nov 10th, 2009 @ 7:36pm

    wouldn't the disclaimer defeat the purpose?
    I thought the internet is more about freedom not more strings.
    He/she should be free to say and advertise as they wish with no disclaimer.Otherwise there will be no fruitful advertising or free speech/will in the first place

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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