Twitter Bans Ads
From 22 Nov onwards, Twitter will ban all political advertising worldwide amidst growing concerns over misinformation from politicians on social media. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey explained the decision in a series of tweets.
He argued that the vast power of internet advertising poses a significant risk for politics. Politicians can buy political message reach and influence votes, affecting the lives of millions in the process. This is made worse by unchecked misleading information, deep fakes and machine learning-based optimisation of messaging and micro-targeting, all at an increasing speed, scale and sophistication. In response to criticisms that Twitter’s ban could favour leaders already in office, he pointed out that many social movements in the past have reached massive scale without any political advertising.
Reactions are divided across the political spectrum. Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager has labelled the move as “yet another attempt to silence conservatives” as Trump has “the most sophisticated online programme ever known”. On the other hand, Democrats have welcomed the move. Hillary Clinton, the former Democratic candidate who lost to Trump in the 2016 presidential election, challenged Facebook to do the same.
Your Move, Facebook
Twitter’s ban has placed pressure on Facebook to rethink its stance on allowing unchecked political advertising even if it contains lies. Earlier, Facebook came under intense scrutiny after it rejected Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden’s request to remove Trump’s ads containing false allegations against him. Despite the pressure, Facebook is unmoved. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reiterated the importance of free speech and said that he didn’t think it was “right for private companies to censor politicians and the news”. He denied accusations that Facebook was merely doing this for money, that the political ads made up a very small percentage of Facebook’s revenue.