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The solution to Facebook's ad problem may be taking cues from TV, author says

  • Facebook has come under fire in recent weeks for its advertising practices.
  • The regulatory agency tasked with overseeing internet ads has been "lax," according to one author.
  • There is likely more regulation on the way for internet companies like Facebook and Google.
Loic Venance | AFP | Getty Images

Facebook has come under fire in recent weeks for advertising practices that allowed Russian trolls to buy space and enabled advertisers to target users based on anti-Semitic search terms.

The solution to troubling internet ads, according to one author and professor, may be to take cues from TV ads.

"When you buy advertising on a TV network, you have to disclose who paid for it and where it's coming from," said Jonathan Taplin, director emeritus of the University of Southern California's Annenberg Innovation Lab, on CNBC's "Closing Bell" Monday.

Facebook and Google, on the other hand, are protected by a safe harbor law that allows advertisers to remain anonymous, Taplin said.

The FCC is tasked with regulation of TV ads -- demanding such transparency as in-ad payment disclosures -- but internet ads fall under the purview of the FTC.

"We've had a very lax regulatory regime, but my guess is they will have to start doing this," Taplin said. "It will lead to more regulation and you're right that the Europeans are starting that."

The European Union earlier this month introduced guidelines for internet giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter to more quickly remove illegal content from their sites. The recommendations aren't legally binding, but lawmakers have said more legislation could follow.