Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Franking Facebook?

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, May 2 2011

Facebook's ads might not be targeted enough to satisfy congressional franking regulations as they stand today, reports Roll Call's Daniel Newhauser:

Franking statutes forbid House Members from using official resources to send mass mailings outside of their district. But Facebook’s advertising platform is too imprecise to prove with certainty that only a Member’s constituents would receive an ad placed on the social network. ...

The law and court ruling were both written before the Internet became ubiquitous and neither specifically addresses online ads. The Member’s franking handbook, which lays out the dos and don’ts of franking, categorizes online ads on par with newspaper and radio advertising, which have less stringent regulations concerning who views the material.

“Members are authorized to purchase only advertisements ... on webpages that serve the Member’s district,” the handbook states.

If you're talking about a single-district place like sparsely populated South Dakota, the issue might not come up. But things get more complicated, writes Newhauser, in sardine-like places like Brooklyn:

Rep. Anthony Weiner, for example, can target ads to Facebook users who live in Brooklyn and like his Facebook profile. But it’s still imprecise to the point where the New Yorker could ensnare constituents of fellow Brooklyn-based Democratic Reps. Jerrold Nadler or Edolphus Towns.

The Committee on House Administration says that they're looking into it.

News Briefs

RSS Feed friday >

First POST: MonopSony

Debating whether the Sony hack is a national security issue; living in the Age of Outrage; how Black Twitter is changing the civil rights scene; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Company

The global "Snowden effect" is huge; how many consumer-facing online services fail the user privacy test; the Dems' 2016 digital to-do list; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Mood Slime

The Sony email leak reveals the MPAA's campaign against Google; how Uber is lobbying in local markets; mapping the #MillionsMarchNYC; and much, much more. GO

More