Updated Apr 6, 2018

Facebook says it supports Honest Ads Act, cracks down on issue ads

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies next week. Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Facebook said Friday it was supporting a bill that increases disclosure requirements for online political ads.

Why it matters: It’s the first time the company has endorsed a specific form of regulation of its platform, and it comes as founder Mark Zuckerberg prepares to face irate lawmakers on Capitol Hill next week. As recently as last week, company officials were dodging whether they supported the bill.

The details:

  • The bill, called The Honest Ads Act, was introduced in October by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.).
  • Ad exec Rob Leathern wouldn’t say whether he would endorse the act just a week ago on a call with reporters.
  • But on Friday, Zuckerberg said in a post that election "interference is a problem that's bigger than any one platform, and that's why we support the Honest Ads Act. This will help raise the bar for all political advertising online."

The impact: Facebook's support of the bill is politically advantageous — its competitors haven't backed the bill — but the legislation doesn't yet have the momentum to pass.

Other updates:

  • Facebook says it plans to release its highly-anticipated public, searchable political ads archive in the U.S. in June. (The company is currently testing a feature in Canada that lets users see ads being run by a specific page.)
  • The company also says that moving forward, only authorized advertisers, who can confirm their identity and location, will be able to run "issue ads," or ads that advocate for a certain political cause. It also says people who manage Pages with large numbers of followers will need to be verified.

In a twist, the company said it would be applying some of these efforts to Instagram as well.

This story has been corrected to reflect that previous comments about the Honest Ads Act were made by Rob Leathern, not Rob Goldman, and the precise nature of the feature being tested in Canada.

Go deeper

House passes bill to make lynching a federal hate crime

Photo: Aaron P. Bauer-Griffin/GC Images via Getty Images

The House voted 410-4 on Wednesday to pass legislation to designate lynching as a federal hate crime.

Why it matters: Congress has tried and failed for over 100 years to pass measures to make lynching a federal crime.

This year's census may be the toughest count yet

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Community leaders are concerned that historically hard-to-count residents will be even harder to count in this year's census, thanks to technological hurdles and increased distrust in government.

Why it matters: The census — which will count more than 330 million people this year — determines how $1.5 trillion in federal funding gets allocated across state and local governments. Inaccurate counts mean that communities don't get their fair share of those dollars.

Live updates: Coronavirus spreads to Latin America

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Brazil confirmed the first novel coronavirus case in Latin America Wednesday — a 61-year-old that tested positive after returning from a visit to northern Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,261 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 374 cases have been confirmed.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health