The past chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission has revealed that groups in Holland and Russia used ads and fake news to influence elections, and suggested it could be worse in 2020 when "most of the advertising" moves from TV to the unregulated internet and huge political sites.
Speaking at a "Future of Democracy" forum last week at the University of California at Berkeley, Democrat Ann Ravel, who just stepped down from the agency, also raised the possibility of regulating political speech and ads on Facebook and Twitter.
Ravel, who pushed for regulation of internet sites and who GOP FEC members said wanted to crack down on conservative sites like the Drudge Report, said that without regulation of internet platforms the FEC's regulatory role will become moot since it focuses mostly on legacy media like TV and radio.
"We know that there's a lot of campaigning that's moved to the internet, whether it's through fake news or just outright advertising and there is almost no regulation of this, very little. And so that the disclosure that we expect as to who is behind campaigns is not going to exist soon," she said at the university's law school.
"Some people are even predicting that by 2020 most of the advertising is going to move from television to the internet, and and I think this is a serious issue that requires a lot of discussion," she added.She pointed to Facebook, and the alleged manipulation of it by campaigns and others, to influence elections as one of the problems facing the nation. It was then she said that Holland and Russia are a problem.
"I've talked to a lot of campaign consultants and they buy some groups in Holland or in Russia who figure out who the target audience might be and then they go through circuitous mechanisms to put ads or fake news or whatever it is on Facebook," she charged, without providing any evidence.
"Facebook doesn't have any real knowledge about who it is that's behind those ads, so I think this is a really serious issue that we need to address," she said at the forum. She begins her discussion of internet regulation and Facebook at 49 minutes in the video posted on Twitter.
Several agencies are looking into Russia's influence in the election, and some Democrats believe Moscow managed an anti-Hillary Clinton effort. There is no investigation of Holland's influence.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org