Twitter Will Ban Political Ads Globally Starting November 22


Late last night local time, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey posted on his platform in a series of tweets that his company will ban all political advertising globally coming next month.

The U.S will be having their Presidential elections next year and Jack wanted out of the 2020 campaign.

The ban covers candidate ads and issues ads with exceptions to ads encouraging voter registration. Jack announced that a full policy concerning this ban will be available to the public on November 15th, 7 days shy of the official day when the ban becomes effective.

Twitter’s decision comes after mounting pressure on Facebook and how it handles political ads. The giant social media company recently changed its policy on political ads posted on the platform that now allowed it to post ads that encouraged disinformation even after being fact-checked to be false – Facebook now prohibits political ads from being fact-checked.

The growing pressure has now made Twitter make this move and has been lauded by the Biden campaign who has been on the receiving end of the misleading and false ads run by Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

The 2020 Presidential candidate sent letters to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and news media outlets to stop hosting false and misleading political ads.

“No company should allow itself to be a tool to mislead the public on any issue, let alone on one as important as the health of our democracy. It is one thing to allow President Trump the platform to spread falsehoods from his own account; it is quite another to profit from paid ads echoing the same lies.

We ask that you make that distinction — between the personal account of a politician and paid advertising content — just as Twitter does in every other context,” the letters read.

Facebook rejected their pleas.

Praising this ban, Bill Russo, deputy communications director for the Biden campaign said in a statement, “We appreciate that Twitter recognizes that they should not permit disproven smears, like those from the Trump campaign, to appear in advertisements on their platform.”

“It would be unfortunate to suggest that the only option available to social media companies to do so is the full withdrawal of political advertising, but when faced with a choice between ad dollars and the integrity of our democracy, it is encouraging that, for once, revenue did not win out,” he added.

Encouraging Decision

Twitter’s new ban also got applauded by the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee who has been looking into Russia’s use of social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter to interfere in the US’s elections since Trump got elected.

Good Call

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called the move a good call coming after pressing Mark Zuckerberg in a hearing held last week criticising Facebook’s unwillingness to fact-check political ads.

“Technology — and social media especially — have a powerful responsibility in preserving the integrity of our elections. Not allowing for paid disinformation is one of the most basic, ethical decisions a company can make.”

This ban wasn’t received well by Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.

It is worth noting that Twitter’s revenue from campaign ads is smaller than what Parscale states – the actual figure is just $3 million. According to Jasmine Enberg, a senior analyst for research company eMarketet, political advertising isn’t likely a critical part of Twitter’s business.

Facebook should follow suit

“Mark Zuckerberg has said he doesn’t want the responsibility of blocking false political ads. If that’s really the case, and not a desperate attempt to placate the far-right, Facebook should follow Twitter’s lead and stop running political ads on its site altogether,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a tweet.

Facebook will still continue hosting political ads despite calls from its employees to change this policy.

“At times of social tension, there has often been an urge to pull back on free expression…We will be best served over the long term by resisting this urge and defending free expression,” Mark Zuckerberg said.

This ban presents a new problem for Twitter

Techcrunch reports that Twitter is now submitting itself for a different kind of punishment as it will now have to be an arbiter of what is political instead of being the arbiter of what is appropriate.

It’s a right decision and will be a hard one but even if the platform fails to get this right, it can at least say it tried.

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