NEWS31 October 2019

Twitter bans political advertising

News North America Public Sector

US – Twitter’s CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey has announced the social media platform will stop all political advertising globally.

On his Twitter feed he wrote: “A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimised and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money.”

He went on to say that internet political ads created “new challenges to civic discourse” with machine learning-based micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information and deep fakes all being particular problems.

While there will be a few exceptions such as ads supporting voter registration, Twitter’s final policy on this will be released on 15th November. It will start to enforce the new policy on the 22nd November.

“It‘s not credible for us to say: We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well...they can say whatever they want!,” he added.

Attention inevitably has turned to Facebook on this topic but its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has said he won’t ban political advertising, choosing to “err on the side of greater expression”.

Paul Bainsfair, director general of the IPA, said: “We welcome Twitter’s decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter. Jack Dorsey’s statement specifically references the dangers to civic discourse presented by political microtargeting and unchecked misleading information. This is something we have repeatedly highlighted and lobbied government to address. And is the reason behind our repeated call for a ban on online political microtargeted advertising.

“Politics relies on open, collective debate. We, however, believe micro-targeted political ads circumvent this. Very small numbers of voters can be targeted with specific messages that exist online only briefly. Crucially, in the absence of regulation, we believe this almost hidden form of political communication is vulnerable to abuse.”

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