July 16, 2019

Feinstein Bill Prevents Use of Social Media Bots in Elections

Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today reintroduced the Bot Disclosure and Accountability Act, a bill to require disclosure of information concerning online social media bots.

            Social media bots are software programs that replicate human activity on social media platforms and often deceive users into thinking they are communicating with another human. Reports suggest that many individuals find bots more persuasive than other forms of paid advertising because they appear to be real people.

            “We know Russia used social media to influence the 2016 election, particularly the deployment of bots that provide content to fake accounts. These bots were used for one purpose: to deceive voters. This bill prohibits bots from being used in any effort that seeks to subvert future elections,” said Feinstein.

            “The American public deserves to know who is behind online political content in order to make informed decisions. That’s why this bill requires social media companies to identify all bots on their platforms and prohibits candidates, parties and PACs from deploying bots to advertise in elections.”

            Full text of the bill is available here.

            What the Bot Disclosure and Accountability Act does:

  • Authorizes the Federal Trade Commission to enforce transparency requirements on social media companies regarding the use of social media bots that replicate human activity online.
  • Amends the Federal Election Campaign Act to prohibit candidates, campaigns and political organizations from using social media bots as a means to disguise online political advertising or deceive voters by giving the false impression of support from actual persons online.

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