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Texas Influencers Required To Disclose Payments For Politics Ads


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Social media influencers in Texas now face stringent new rules regarding political advertisements. The Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) recently implemented regulations mandating that influencers disclose any payments received for political posts. This decision, unanimously approved in March and finalized with another unanimous vote, aims to address growing concerns over undisclosed political influence wielded through social media.

The amendment to Chapter 26.1 of the Commission Rules requires influencers who receive more than $100 for political advertisements to transparently disclose these financial transactions. This move was prompted by incidents like Influenceable’s alleged payments to influencers for promoting narratives favorable to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, as reported by The Texas Tribune and The Texan.

James Tinsley, TEC’s general counsel, clarified that these changes are intended to close existing loopholes rather than impose entirely new requirements. “This is not the case of the TEC inventing a substantive requirement through rulemaking. It’s quite the opposite. It’s paring back an exception,” Tinsley emphasized.

Despite the unanimous support for the new rules, concerns linger among experts like Andrew Cates, who believes the regulations may not go far enough in addressing the broader responsibilities of those funding political ads on social media platforms.

This development in Texas mirrors broader national discussions about the influence and regulation of social media platforms in disseminating political information. Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. surgeon general, recently called for similar transparency measures on social media akin to warning labels on cigarette packs. This underscores the growing recognition of social media’s significant role in shaping political discourse, with studies indicating a notable reliance on these platforms for political news among American adults.

As these regulations take effect, they mark a pivotal step in Texas’ efforts to enhance transparency and accountability in digital political advertising, potentially influencing similar measures nationwide.

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