Twitter Announces Ban On Political Ads As FB Takes Heat Over Its Ad Policy

The Twitter app is seen on various digital devices on March 28, 2018. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto)
The Twitter app is seen on various digital devices on March 28, 2018. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced a full ban on political ads Wednesday amid backlash over Facebook’s refusal to take down political ads containing false information.

“We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally,” Dorsey tweeted. “We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

In a lengthy Twitter thread, the CEO explained that the decision to stop accepting paid political ads aims to boost Twitter’s credibility in its efforts to combat misinformation on its platform.

“For instance, 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!'” Dorsey tweeted.

The CEO concluded his announcement with a veiled jab at Facebook’s excuse for allowing politicians to post ads that spread lies and conspiracy theories.

“This isn’t about free expression. This is about paying for reach,” he wrote. “And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle. It’s worth stepping back in order to address.”

Facebook has come under fire recently for its refusal to vet politicians’ paid content through its third-party fact checker system and for allowing said content to skirt Facebook’s misinformation policy, citing its “fundamental belief in free expression.”

However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg struggled to address the inherent problems with the policy raised by lawmakers during his congressional hearing last week.

In a notable exchange with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Zuckerberg couldn’t say for sure whether the congresswoman could run Facebook ads claiming that certain Republicans had voted for her Green New Deal.

“Do you see a potential problem here with a complete lack of fact-checking on political advertisements?” Ocasio-Cortez asked Zuckerberg.

“Well, congresswoman, I think lying is bad, and I think if you were to run an ad that had a lie in it, that would be bad,” he responded.

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