Prior to the 2016 election, advertising online was unregulated. There wasn’t much holding anyone back. It’s one of the reasons ad-blocking has become a selling point for the anti-virus industry. But bad actors have exploited this freedom for their own personal political gain. Now we’re now nearing a threshold where companies can no longer sit back, relax, and idle by. We are finally seeing these companies be held accountable for letting their advertising system be left unchecked for so long. With 2020 only a month away now, companies are reacting as fast they can.
The first high profile case was Twitter. They banned political ads altogether. Snapchat, Tik Tok and other services have also followed suit with their own restrictions. Google has announced they’ll regulate them by limiting what information should be accepted, banning misinformation, and cracking down on deep fakes, the manipulation of audio or video using machine learning to create something convincing. Combating the latter is very important because deep fakes only reinforces propaganda very cheaply. Google is the perfect company to take this on because they’ve helped pioneer the democratization of machine learning via Tensorflow. So they already have the tools to fight fire with fire.
The elephant in the room is — as always — Facebook. They’ve choosen to stay out of it on the claims of free speech. However, as you might expect there is always constriction with this company. Although Facebook has banned Alex Jones and similar outlets, angering Republicans, Zuckerberg recently had a secret dinner with Donald Trump. Facebook is feeling pressure on both sides: other companies implanting these regulations means a loss of trust but Trump’s campaign is likely putting pressure on the company to not act. But there are potential signs that Facebook will bow down to pressure, again. They’ll likely put up weak rules, like they always do.