FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub is attacking political speech on Twitter again, this time objecting to an op-ed in the Washington Post praising Facebook's decision to allow micro-targeting of political ads. As we have described many times in this blog, not only does Commissioner Weintraub want online political speech to be extensively regulated, apparently she is also opposed to allowing those who disseminate their speech online to do so in a "cost-effective" way:
It’s amazing to me how #microtargeting is largely being justified on grounds that it's "cost-effective."— Ellen L Weintraub (@EllenLWeintraub) January 9, 2020
You know what else is cost-effective? Child labor. Dumping sewage into rivers. Fraud.
Just because something is cost-effective does not necessarily make it a good idea. https://t.co/2lJotJsFBY
The Post op-ed praised Facebook's micro-targeting for promoting diversity by allowing marginalized groups, whether on the right or the left, to reach their audience in an efficient manner. Not allowing ad targeting favors those with massive budgets (c.f. the Mike Bloomberg ads blanketing the airwaves):
Journalism professor Jeff Jarvis posted on Medium, “Without targeting, we are left with mass media — at the extreme, Super Bowl commercials — and the people who can afford them: billionaires and those loved by them. Without targeting, big money will forever be in charge of commerce and politics. Targeting is an antidote.” He cited several ads, including one promoting the "National Trans Visibility March."
RNLA Board of Governors member and 2019 Republican Lawyer of the Year Lee Goodman identified the heart of the problem:
Former FEC Chairman Lee Goodman, a champion of new technology and online speech, said, “Microtargeting helps American citizens communicate their political ideas effectively in a democracy.”
And he was critical of efforts to curb it. “Comparing free speech to sewage says all you need to know about the value Commissioner Weintraub places on First Amendment rights,” he told Secrets.