CEO Jack Dorsey just announced, via tweet, that Twitter will be banning all political advertising — albeit with “a few exceptions” like voter registration.
“We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,” Dorsey said.
While the exceptions beyond voter registration have yet to be spelled out, it sounds like this will apply to both ads endorsing candidates and ads advocating a position on political issues.
He also said the company will share the final policy by November 15, and that it will start enforcing the policy on November 22.
“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,” Dorsey wrote. “All at increasing velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale.”
So why not continue accepting ads while trying to stamp out misinformation? He argued that the company “needs to focus our efforts on the root problems, without the additional burden and complexity taking money brings.” (A blanket policy could also help Twitter avoid the controversy of making these determinations on a case-by-case basis.)
This comes after Facebook, in particular, has faced heavy criticism around its refusal to fact-check political advertising (even as it took steps to fight misinformation elsewhere), with Facebook employees writing an open letter objecting to this stance.
But it’s worth noting that one of the ads prompting the recent controversy — in which the Trump campaign promoted a conspiracy theory about Joe Biden — also ran on YouTube and Twitter. (It also ran on some TV networks, although CNN refused to air it.) So even through the discussion has focused on Facebook, this an issue that all the big online platforms have had to take a position on, one way or another.