Twitter Bans Political Ads Ahead of 2020 Election

Social media giant Twitter announced Wednesday that it will be banning political ads from the site, according to CEO Jack Dorsey.

The announcement, which caused the company’s stock to drop by more than 1% in just hours afterward, is completely contradictory to the message Facebook sent in recent weeks concerning political ads. Facebook announced that it will neither fact check not remove ads from politicians. Even though they have received harsh criticism from lawmakers and even its own employees, Facebook argued that it should not have the power to make decisions about its users’ and politician’s speech.

Dorsey explained Twitter’s decision to ban political ads in a series of tweets on the social media platform.

“A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet,” Dorsey wrote. “Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money.”

Dorsey also indicated that it would be “not credible” for Twitter to tell users it is committed to stopping the spread of misinformation while allowing advertisers to still target users with political ads just because they’ve paid Twitter to do so.

Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook once thought about banning political ads, but said that they don’t make up a significant enough portion of the business to be a concern. He did, however, warn about the difficulty of such a policy and said, “when it’s not absolutely clear what to do, we should err on the side of greater expression.”

Clearly directed at Zuckerberg, Dorsey made this final post about the situation.

“This isn’t about free expression,” Twitter’s CEO said. “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 addressed the issue in a series of tweets saying Twitter also considered banning only candidate ads, but ultimately decided to ban issue ads as well since Twitter believes it’s unfair to allow everyone except the candidates themselves to buy ads.

Dorsey and Zuckerberg continue to debate as the tech industry deals with criticism over its privacy and competitive policies. When Dorsey was asked whether he would join Facebook’s new cryptocurrency association during a visit to New York last week, the Twitter CEO said “hell no.” In addition, Dorsey made a call for regulation of the industry, but his appeal was for “more forward-looking political ad regulation” which considers the unique capabilities of internet advertising.

President Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign manager Brad Parscale called Dorsey’s announcement of the banning of political ads from Twitter as “a very dumb decision” in a statement ironically posted to Twitter. Parscale said the move was meant to “silence conservatives,” and wasn’t a very clever one.

Twitter has plans to begin enforcing the new policy on November, 22 after it releases its final policy on November 15.


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