Turning off political ads on #facebook could have unpredictable consequences


Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

Programming note: The Interface is off on Thursday. Back on Monday.

It seems hard to believe now, but there was a time when political advertising was relatively uncontroversial. Sure, individual ads regularly proved to be controversial, from the nuclear provocations of Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Daisy” to racist fear-mongering of George H.W. Bush’s “Willie Horton.” And the economics of political advertising, which depend heavily on moneyed interests pushing their agenda through opaque front groups, have been the subject of sustained and valid criticism since well before the Citizens United decision.

But the basic idea that a politician ought to be able to buy space in a media outlet and show it to a bunch of people — that was something we…

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