FEC Disclaimer UpdateFebruary 6, 2023
Effective March 1, 2023, the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) will require paid internet communications, including small digital advertisements, to bear a disclaimer if the communication:
- Is sponsored by a federal political action committee (PAC);
- Expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified federal candidate;
- Solicits a contribution for the purpose of influencing federal elections; or
- Is an electioneering communication related to federal elections.
PAID COMMUNICATIONS ONLY
The new disclaimer requirement only applies to paid internet communications. Specifically, the new disclaimer requirement applies to “communications placed for a fee on another person’s website, digital device, application, or advertising platform.” For example, a paid advertisement placed on a social media platform will be required to have a disclaimer.
Disclaimers for paid internet communications must meet the following specifications:
- The font size must be large enough to be clearly readable;
- The font size must be at least as large as the majority of other text in the communication; and
- The disclaimer must have a reasonable degree of color contrast between the background and the disclaimer’s text.
If the communication is a video, the disclaimer must be visible for at least four seconds and appear without the recipient taking any additional action. If the communication only contains audio components (e.g., radio advertisements), then the disclaimer must be included in that audio and sound without the recipient taking any additional action.
ADAPTED DISCLAIMER REQUIREMENTS
Certain paid internet communications may bear adapted disclaimers. If the full disclaimer would occupy more than 25% of the communication or is otherwise unable to be included “due to the character or space constraints intrinsic to the advertising product or medium,” then the communication may bear an adapted disclaimer.
An adapted disclaimer must:
- Clearly state the sponsor of the communication by using the sponsor’s full name or a commonly understood abbreviation or acronym;
- Contain a clear and conspicuous indicator that visually or audibly indicates to the recipient that they may view the full disclaimer by clicking or taking another action; and
- Contain a technological mechanism that enables the recipient to view or hear the full disclaimer by taking no more than one action such as hover-over text, pop-up screens, scrolling text, rotating panels, or hyperlinks to a landing page.
NO STAND-BY-YOUR-AD STATEMENT
Note that neither the full disclaimer nor the adapted disclaimer includes the “stand-by-your-ad” requirement.
For more information on paid internet communication disclaimers or to learn how Godfrey & Kahn can help, contact a member of our Political Law Practice Group.