Twitter to ban political advertising

Prya Oliveira, Staff Writer

 

On Nov. 22, Twitter will ban all political advertisements across its platform. Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, announced this new policy, pressuring other social media platforms to be more hands-on when it comes to the spread of political ads. 

Dorsey claims, that false advertisement and spread of misinformation creates a big issue, “all at increasing velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale.” 

He added that ads have “significant ramifications and today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle.” 

However, many argue that this ban is a violation of the principles of freedom of speech. 

Presidential candidates for the 2020 election have already spent approximately $5.4 million on Twitter ads and $73.5 million on Facebook ads. Researchers show that if Facebook were to implement a similar ban on political ads, this would change the advertisement game. However, Twitter does not need campaign advertisements to be profitable, and in turn, the campaigns do not necessarily need Twitter. Twitter’s stock dropped over one percent after its announcement, showing that not everyone is excited about this policy. 

Looking more into why Dorsey wanted to implement this policy, he tweeted, “We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

He believes that this is a problem worth stepping back to address. Twitter believes that it is unfair to allow everyone but the candidates themselves to purchase ads on topics that matter to them. 

Dorsey argued that there needs to be a fight against disinformation spread online. He tweeted that it is not credible for tech companies to claim they are fighting against misinformation “but if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well… they can say whatever they want.”

This policy would not be banning political speech completely because politicians like President Trump would still be able to tweet freely. However, Twitter has been discussing the need to ban ads that talk about political issues, including climate change. 

Twitter’s head of legal, policy, trust, and safety, Vijaya Gadde tweeted that political ads “advocate for or against legislative issues of national importance.”

There has been backlash from Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Zuckerberg, as well as President Trump’s Campaign Manager, Brad Parscale. 

“Twitter bans political ads in yet another attempt by the left to silence Trump and conservatives. Wouldn’t be surprised if @twitter lifted the ban after 2020,” Parscale tweeted. 

He then calls this new policy “a very dumb decision.”

Zuckerberg announced earlier this month that he would let politicians run claims, even false ones, in political ads. He says that Facebook is a platform to give people a voice, pushing free expression. He even notes that such ads are newsworthy.

Politicians like Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are supporting the ban. She tweeted, “This is the right thing to do for democracy in America and all over the world. What say you, @Facebook?”

David Cicilline, House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman, said that this is a “good” step in the right direction, saying “Your move, Google/Facebook.” 

The director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, Graham Brookie says, “Social media platforms were seen as a great equalizer in terms of how humans consume information and how they connect with each other” he continues, “the concept of paid engagement or unequal engagement doesn’t realize that vision.” 

It is unclear about what effect this ban will have on campaigns, or on other social media platforms. However, it will be interesting to see if there is a difference once the ban is implemented.  

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