No More Political Ads on Twitter, CEO Says -- Does He Have a Point?

source: Pixabay

Twitter bans all political advertising, CEO Jack Dorsey announced on Wednesday, highlighting the new policy enters into force November 22.

It will apply internationally, Dorsey added, stating that it will affect all electioneering ads and ads related to political issues. The ban enters into force in time for the upcoming US presidential elections, and the UK snap election, among others.

Dorsey explained his reasoning in a detailed Twitter thread that left the impression to include several references to the controversial arguments that Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has put forward lately.

Dorsey emphasized that a political message earns reach when people opt to follow an account or retweet. Paying for that removes that decision, Dorsey added, saying that this decision should be earned not compromised by money.

Twitter CEO also argued that it has nothing to do with freedom of speech, apparently opposing Mark Zuckerberg's recent defense of online political advertising. It is not about free expression, Dorsey continued, noting that it is about paying for reach.

Twitter's chief financial officer, Ned Segal, echoed Dorsey's words saying that the company made less than USD 3 million from political ads in 2018.  He also emphasized that the decision to ban political ads is based on principles, not money.

Open Knowledge Foundation, Muslim Advocates, and the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin were among the first ones to congratulate Dorsey on the move. 

Catherine Stihler, Open Knowledge Foundation CEO, welcomed Twitter's decision and urged Facebook to act on the increasing public demands for greater transparency. 

Madihha Ahussain, of Muslim Advocates, thanked Dorsey for not merely following Facebook's policy on political ads.

The screenwriter Aaron Sorkin who made The Social Network movie, a film about Facebook's early years, also joined the growing criticism of Facebook's policy to allow misinformation in political ads.

Dorsey's announcement comes in times of intense scrutiny of Big Techs' ways of tackling political ads. For instance, Facebook was recently severely criticized for defending its policy of not fact-checking political ads.

Twitter is not the first social media to ban political ads. Earlier in October, the Chinese video app TikTok announced political ads do not fit into the user experience the platform aims to deliver to its customers.

The app allows users to create and share videos with special effects. It is trendy among millennials across Southeast Asia and India. It has over 500 million users worldwide, among which teen idols such as Katy Perry and Ariana Grande.

Zuckerberg reiterated his stance on political advertising on Wednesday, highlighting how Facebook and Twitter have diverged.

Without directly addressing Dorsey's announcement, Zuckerberg opened Facebook's third quarter earnings call by saying "we need to be careful about adopting more and more rules" surrounding political speech.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the new Twitter policy on political ads?