Twitter has decided to ban political advertising globally on its platform. On Wednesday, Twitter made the announcement responding to growing tensions over misinformation from politicians on social media.
Jack Dorsey, the chief executive tweeted that 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.”
The declaration comes with Facebook under pressure to apply fact-checking to politicians running ads with debunked claims.
According to Dorsey, the new policy would ban political ads on political issues as well as from candidates. The details of the policy will be provided next month and will be imposed from November 22.
“We considered stopping only candidate ads, but issue ads present a way to circumvent,” he said.
“Additionally, it isn’t fair for everyone but candidates to buy ads for issues they want to push. So we’re stopping these too.”
The company, said Dorsey, took the action to head off potential problems from “machine learning-based optimization of messaging and micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes.”
The move of Twitter comes in contrast to the Facebook policy that allows political speech and ads to run without fact-checking on the leading social network. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook stated political advertising is not a major source of revenue but he believes it is important to allow everyone a “voice”, and that banning political ads would favor incumbents.
However, Dorsey said he does not agree with Zuckerberg’s view. “We have witnessed many social movements reach massive scale without any political advertising. I trust this will only grow,” he added.
Twitter’s chief financial officer Ned Segal said, “Since we are getting questions: This decision was based on principle, not money.”
“As context, we’ve disclosed that political ad spend for the 2018 US midterms was (less than) $3M,” he added.
President Donald Trump’s campaign and its use of ads have challenged the social media platforms that contain claims critics say have been debunked by independent fact-checkers.
Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said that “Twitter just walked away from hundreds of millions of dollars of potential revenue, a very dumb decision for their stockholders.”
“Will Twitter also be stopping ads from biased liberal media outlets who will now run unchecked as they buy obvious political content meant to attack Republicans?”
Michelle Amazeen, a Boston University professor specializing in political communication said, “Until privately-owned social media platforms can develop and consistently enforce standards to prevent demonstrably inaccurate information in political advertising, this is the right move.”