Twitter plans to globally restrict all political ads, as it feels that those behind such influential campaigns rely on their monetary contributions to gain extensive reach to the public, even though the messages that are promoted might be entirely untrue.
Twitter’s Chief Executive Officer, Jack Dorsey, said, “While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics”.
Brad Parscale – who manages Trump’s re-election campaign – feels that this move is just “another attempt by the left to silence Trump and conservatives”. On the other hand, spokesman for Joe Biden’s campaign, Bill Russo, says, “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.”
Meanwhile, Facebook stands firmly behind the notion of political advertising on social media. The company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said, “In a democracy, I don’t think it’s right for private companies to censor politicians or the news”.
Dorsey posted on Twitter, “We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought. Why? A few reasons…”
Dorsey feels that along with political advertising comes a host of “entirely new challenges to civic discourse”, such as “machine learning-based optimization of messaging”, as well as “micro-targeting”, potentially invalid and deceptive information, and “deep fakes”.
He explained that it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to say, “We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, but if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well…they can say whatever they want!”
Reactions to the ban
Hillary Clinton appears to have embraced Twitter’s move as she tweeted, “This is the right thing to do for democracy in America and all over the world. What say you, @Facebook?”
Carl Miller, a social media analyst, says that it’s a welcomed change for a leading technology company such as Twitter to see beyond the dollars and consider the immense turmoil they’re causing for the organizations that don’t move as fast as they do.
Miller tweeted, “My main concern with micro-targeted ads on SM [social media] during elections is that it means you can tell thousands of different stories to different groups without the other groups hearing what you’re saying. The potential for duplicity (or uber-multiplicity) is just enormous”.
Twitter’s ban is set to go into play as of the 22nd of November, with more information to be announced on the 15th.