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New York bill would ban anonymous political ads on Facebook

ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York would require political ads on Facebook or other social media platforms to contain the names of the people or groups paying for them under legislation proposed Tuesday amid growing scrutiny of the influence such ads had on the 2016 presidential election.

Democratic state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, of Long Island, said his proposal would discourage false or misleading ads while informing citizens about those trying to influence their votes. He announced the legislation a day after Facebook turned 3,000 ads over to three congressional committees looking into Russian influence in the election, in which Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton.

"Not another political ad should run on social media without voters knowing exactly who paid for it," Kaminsky said. "It's one thing to lie to a voter; it's quite another to be able to do it anonymously, without any accountability. Political ads on television, in mail and new media platforms like Facebook should be transparent."

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The proposed disclosure rules also would apply to mailed campaign advertisements.

Kaminsky's idea has yet to provoke an organized opposition, but efforts to impose state-specific regulations on particular industries often face opposition from industry groups worried about complying with a patchwork of conflicting laws.

Facebook says it's already working to provide users with more information about political ads on its site.

"We are open to reviewing any reasonable proposals," company spokesman Andy Stone said when asked about Kaminsky's proposal.

The proposal could be taken up when lawmakers begin their 2018 session in January.

The Washington Post reports that one of the advertisements purchased by Russians showed photos of a black woman pulling the trigger of a rifle that contained no bullets. The ad may have been intended to provoke fear among white people, the report said, and to encourage black militancy, investigators believe.

Mr. Trump, a Republican, has denied getting any help from Russia in beating Clinton, a Democrat, in the election and has called reports of Russian meddling in the election a hoax. Russia has denied hacking into the U.S. election.

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