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Twitter Bans All Political Ads, Says ‘Better Earned Than Bought’

Best to focus our efforts on the root problems, without the added burden, complexity more money brings, Dorsey said.

Published
World
3 min read
Dorsey said that the reason for this is that we (twitter) believe political message reach “should be earned, not bought.”
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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, on Wednesday 30 October, announced that Twitter has made the decision to stop all political advertising globally. The policy will be shared on 15 November and will come into force on 22 November.

This comes at a time when Facebook has taken fire after disclosing that it will not fact-check ads by politicians or their campaigns, which could allow them to lie freely. CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress last week that politicians have the right to free speech on Facebook.

The issue gained light in September when Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, refused to remove a misleading video ad from President Donald Trump’s campaign that targeted former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential candidate.
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“Significant Risk That Can Affect Lives of Millions”

Dorsey said that the reason for this is that we (twitter) believe political message reach “should be earned, not bought.”

“While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions.”
Jack Dorsey, CEO, Twitter
Twitter Bans All Political Ads, Says ‘Better Earned Than Bought’

Dorsey further went also gave reasons on why, political reach being earned, not bought.

He said that a political message ‘earns’ reach when people follow an account or retweet and paying for reach removes that decision, forcing optimised and targeted political messages on people.

Apart from that, he said that political advertising presents new challenges to the civic discourse like machine learning-based optimisation of messaging and micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes.

“These are the challenges that will affect all internet communication, not just the political ads,” Dorsey said.

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Apparent Jibe at Facebook

Saying that twitter will stay focused on the root problems, without additional burden and complexity that more money brings in, Dorsey gave an instance, in an apparent jibe at competitor Facebook, whose policy exempts ads from political candidates from its own fact-checking program.

In what seemed as an instance of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent Congress hearing, where he was grilled over fact checking political ads by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Dorsey said that its not credible to say that “we are working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misinformation, but if someone pays us to target and force people to see their ads, they can say whatever they want!”

“It is best that we stay focused on the root problems, without the additional burden and complexity money brings in. Trying to fix both means fixing neither well, and harms our credibility.”
Jack Dorsey, CEO, Twitter
Twitter’s move to stop only candidate ads but allowing issue ads also stands closed. Reason being that ads for/supporting issues provided a way to circumvent, where candidates usually buy ads for issues they want to push.

Further, Dorsey said that even though ad transparency is a progress, there needs to be more political ad regulation.

“Ad transparency requirements are progress, but not enough. The internet provides entirely new capabilities, and regulators need to think past the present day to ensure a level playing field.”
Jack Dorsey, CEO, Twitter

Not About Free Expression, About Paying for Reach

“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.”
Jack Dorsey, CEO, Twitter

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