Twitter has announced that it will be banning all political advertising from its social networking service, saying social media companies give advertisers an unfair advantage in proliferating highly targeted and misleading messages.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted the change to his platform on Wednesday, saying the company is recognizing that advertising on social media offers an unfair level of targeting compared to other mediums.
Twitter’s policy will start on November 22.
Dorsey posted a series of tweets on Wednesday explaining Twitter’s decision.
‘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…’ he tweeted.
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…🧵
— jack 🌍🌏🌎 (@jack) October 30, 2019
‘A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. 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.
‘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.’
Twitter currently only allows certified campaigns and organizations to run political ads for candidates and issues. The latter tend to advocate on broader issues such as climate change, abortion rights and immigration.
The company said it will make some exceptions, such as allowing ads that encourage voter turnout.
It will describe those in a detailed policy it plans to release on November 15.
The issue regarding political ads suddenly arose 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.
In response, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, another presidential hopeful, ran an ad on Facebook taking aim at its CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The ad falsely claimed that Zuckerberg endorsed President Donald Trump for re-election, acknowledging the deliberate falsehood as necessary to make a point.
Separately, Facebook has been under fire since it disclosed earlier in October that it will not fact-check ads by politicians or their campaigns, which could allow them to lie freely.
Zuckerberg told Congress last week that politicians have the right to free speech on Facebook.
Facebook faced fresh criticism on Tuesday when hundreds of employees signed a letter urging the company to apply fact-checking for politicians spreading misinformation via advertisements.
‘Misinformation affects us all. Our current policies on fact-checking people in political office, or those running for office, are a threat to what Facebook stands for,’ the employees wrote.
‘We strongly object to this policy as it stands. It doesn’t protect voices, but instead allows politicians to weaponize our platform by targeting people who believe that content posted by political figures is trustworthy.’
They argued that the policy could effect the upcoming 2020 elections.
The letter was in response to a stance Facebook made last month saying it will refrain from removing claims in political ads, even those that are found to be false, if they ‘believe the public interest in seeing it outweighs the risk of harm’.
The policy exempts comments and paid ads on the platform from fact-checking – an issue that has become heated with President Donald Trump’s online ads using what some called ‘provably false’ claims.
The controversial stance continues to draw ire from U.S. lawmakers who have since stepped up their calls for Facebook to revisit its policy.
The majority of money spent on political advertising in the U.S. goes to television ads.