Twitter and Facebook are looking to stop or (for the latter) perhaps curtail political advertising. But is that the whole equation?
One future question: When it comes to political messaging, do you know it when you see it?
Getting social media or other cookie-derived display messages coming your way may not always feel like advertising.
What if you see a digital message on traditional media platforms in which a TV network complains about being dropped from Dish, DirecTV, or Comcast? Maybe the ad encourages you to call your rep in Congress.
Is that a political ad or just a grudge message from a private TV media company?
Let’s get murkier: A Rolling Stone story now says some of those uplifting tweets you might be sharing are coming from Russian trolls.
A tweet from @IamTyraJackson showed an uplifting pair of images of former pro football player Warrick Dunn and a description of his inspiring charity work building houses for single mothers. Turns out, that tweet came from a new spinoff group to Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA). What could its motive be?
Now ask: What do you think about when you think about a political TV commercial? Typically, one starts with voiceover in a threatening, urgent tone looking to implore voters or just likely voters to take action. We’ve heard this one before.
But there are rules from the FCC. So another fast-talking voiceover might run at the end of the commercial, as well as perhaps some tiny on-air graphics, to identify the source of the ad.
Even then, you might claim there is too much political TV advertising on the airwaves. So much so, that TV stations almost always highlight this activity.
Yet bad actors continue to find new ways to infiltrating social-media messaging — and consumers need to feel media platforms they frequent are making some attempt -- some editorial judgement -- to discern the source backing the paid-for content.
This is one area social networks are shying away from, claiming freedom of speech and truth will out. Well, maybe. Maybe in five, 10 or 20 years, history books may reveal the truth. But right now, content ostensibly covered by freedom of speech has no expiration date.
Misleading, false, sometimes dangerous misinformation can hang around on media platforms for a long time. Milk sours and curdles. Feel good about that? Drink up.