IPA reacts to DCMS Report on Disinformation and Fake News

The IPA has welcomed a number of key recommendations made by the DCMS in their final report on Disinformation and Fake News, but reasserts its recommendation for a funding model to help curb the microtargeting of political advertising online.

IPA reacts to DCMS Report on Disinformation and Fake News

The IPA fully advocates the DCMS proposal for a public and searchable repository – something it called for in its written evidence to the Select Committee back in July – to aid transparency of online political advertising. This will provide recipients with relevant information to allow them to identify the source of the ad, who uploaded it, who sponsored it, and its country of origin. The IPA also supports the recommendations made by the Electoral Commission to the DCMS for imprints to show the sponsor of the ad.

To ensure the viability of the register and to help curb the growing rise of pernicious microtargeted ads, however, the IPA has reiterated its recommendation for the tech giants to charge a fixed fee for each individual political ad creative used, irrespective of the scale of use.

Says Paul Bainsfair, Director General, IPA:

“If a repository is to be viable and effective, it is imperative that its scale is manageable and is matched by its resourcing. When it comes to political advertising online, the trend reveals increasing spend, increasingly refined targeting and increased automation, all leading to a mushrooming body of microtargeted online political advertising. Trump alone deployed 5.9 million different online executions. By tying a cost to each creative, we hope it will lead to a reduction in the number of dark ads being microtargeted at consumers.”

In addition to these main points the IPA also looks forward to further detail, and is keen to volunteer its expert understanding, where appropriate, to:

  • A new definition of tech company that is neither a platform nor publisher
  • Harmful content being removed from the internet. The IPA applauds any removal of content that can damage society and anything that improves brand safety online.
  • A CMA audit into the operation of the advertising marketing on social media.

The IPA also notes that the DCMS makes no recommendations regarding the pre-vetting or fact checking of any online political ads.

Last updated 19 February 2019