Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey Announces Platform‑Wide Ban on All Political Advertising


Oct 31, 2019


Image Credit: Anushree Fadnavis

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey announced today the social media platform will no longer carry political advertising. The company’s final policy regarding this ban will be finalized on November 15, and the ban will be in effect from November 22.

“We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,” Dorsey tweeted in the early morning of October 31. However, ads in support of voting registration will not be affected by said ban.

The reasoning Dorsey offered was that paying for “reach” — that is, the number of users exposed to a piece of content on the platform — leads to forcing people to view highly targeted political messaging rather than allowing them to organically engage with such messaging they find themselves.

“Internet political ads present entirely new challenges to civic discourse: machine learning-based optimization of messaging and micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes. All at increasing velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale.” Dorsey tweeted. “These challenges will affect ALL internet communication, not just political ads. Best to focus our efforts on the root problems, without the additional burden and complexity taking money brings. Trying to fix both means fixing neither well, and harms our credibility.”

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This news comes on the heels of Facebook’s refusal to ban political ads. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended this decision by stating that it wouldn’t be correct to censor politicians. “Political ads are an important part of voice — especially for local candidates, up-and-coming challengers, and advocacy groups that may not get much media attention otherwise,” Zuckerberg said in a speech at Georgetown University earlier this month. Zuckerberg also stated that Facebook’s decision was more ideological than monetarily influenced, as political ads make up a very small percentage of the company’s ad revenue.

While both social media platforms’ moves spell drastic strategy re-evaluations for the upcoming U.S Presidential elections (slated to begin in 2020), Indian political parties, which just finished general elections earlier this year, will have time to gather their bearings for the upcoming 2024 general elections. While current U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign manager slammed Twitter’s move, calling it an “attempt by the left to silence Trump and conservatives,” other presidential hopefuls like former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden have welcomed the reform. American politician and activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also welcomed the move, tweeting, “Not allowing for paid disinformation is one of the most basic, ethical decisions a company can make.”


Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is a culture writer at The Swaddle. Previously, she worked as a freelance journalist focused on gender and cities. Find her on social media @aditimurti.


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