by Tyler Hale
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced today that the social media platform will stop all political advertising in November. The ban is expected to go into effect Nov. 22.
In a series of tweets, Dorsey wrote that Twitter will no longer allow political advertising with a few exceptions, such as voter registration ads. The full advertising policy will be made available on Nov. 15
This new policy will impact both candidate ads and issue ads. Initially, the company was considering focusing solely on candidate ads. However, issue ads, Dorsey says, would be a method of circumventing any prohibitions on candidate ads.
We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought. Why? A few reasons…🧵
— jack (@jack) October 30, 2019
According to Dorsey, the decision to ban political advertising is based on the impact that political ads can have on elections and the subsequent impact on lives. He argues that “political message reach should be earned, not bought,” and that political ads are simply a way of buying reach and allowing targeted messages to reach a broader spectrum of viewers.
These ads, he says, are also creating new challenges for elections and political discourse, from the use of microtargeting, machine learning-based optimization and more.
We’re committing Twitter to help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation, and to hold ourselves publicly accountable towards progress.
— jack (@jack) March 1, 2018
Dorsey ends his series of tweets by saying that the policy was not designed to impact free expression. The policy, he says, is centered around the effects of political reach and the consequences of paying for that reach. Regulation, Dorsey says, will be necessary in order to level the playing field and create increased transparency.
“This isn’t about free expression. This is about paying for reach. And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle. It’s worth stepping back in order to address,” Dorsey says.
Twitter’s decision to ban political advertising stands in stark contrast to Facebook’s policy. In a September blog post on Facebook’s newsroom, Facebook Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg wrote that the company does not require politicians to fact-check their ads.
“We don’t believe, however, that it’s an appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny. That’s why Facebook exempts politicians from our third-party fact-checking program,” he wrote.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg later defended the policy during a Capitol Hill visit on Oct. 21. According to Vox Media’s Peter Kafka, Zuckerberg later said in a press conference that “people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying…” instead of having tech companies police ads.
“I just think that in a democracy people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying, and I think that people should make up their own minds about which candidates are credible and which candidates have the kind of character that they want to see in their elected officials. And I don’t think those determinations should come from tech companies,” Zuckerberg said.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons