The ball is officially in Facebook’s court after Twitter founder Jack Dorsey announced today that he’d be banning all political advertising 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.” he tweeted earlier this morning.
In a lengthy thread, Dorsey said that political decisions should “not be compromised by money” and that Internet political ads present challenges like “machine learning-based optimisation or messaging, micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes.”
Dorsey said it’s “not credible” for Twitter to say they’re working to stop people spreading misleading information, but accept payment to target people with someone’s political ads.
The Twitter founder said that “regulators need to think past the present pay to ensure a level playing field.” In a final note, Dorsey said Twitter’s move to ban political ads isn’t about free expression, “it’s about paying for reach.”
“Paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” he wrote.
While Dorsey added there would be a few exceptions, including the allowance of “ads in support of voter registration,” it’s a big move for Twitter – especially considering the 2020 United States presidential election kicks off in less than a week
Twitter’s ban on political ads also comes one week after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over the social media platform’s political advertising policies.
During her line of questioning, AOC asked Zuckerberg, “so you won’t take down lies, or you will take down lies? It’s a pretty simple yes or no.”
Zuckerberg told the congresswoman it “depended on the context” and during Facebook’s Q3 2019 earnings call today he said he doesn’t agree with “critics” who claim the company won’t ban ads because “all we care about is money.”
“We need to be careful about adopting more rules that can restrict what people can say,” he said. “I don’t think it’s right for politicians to be censored.”
Twitter isn’t the first big player to take the lead in banning political ads. This month, Google banned political advertising in Canada ahead of the country’s election and video sharing platform TikTok put an end to political ads as well.
Looks like it’s your move, Zuckerberg.