Welcome to the world of Twitter, the birthplace of memes and a social media platform where you can tap into the breaking news cycle while enjoying some of the craziest conspiracy theories and rumours. Twitter is a limitless source of information as there are about 6,000 tweets which are tweeted every second. This probably explains why Twitter ads are so popular since it provides a real-time connection to the world. Unfortunately for some politicians, and fortunately for others, Twitter has banned all political Ads on its platform.
There has been lots of news concerning social media platforms and political campaigns, especially after the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Early in October, the popular Chinese video app TikTok announced that it was going to ban all paid political ads on its platform “as they do not fit into the experience it aims to provide to millions of its users.” Facebook, on the other hand, has received lots of criticism since it announced it was not going to fact check nor remove claims made by politicians in ads.
Twitter also made a major announcement as it decided to take a step away from political ads. CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted, “We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.” As you would imagine, this led to lots of mixed reactions. A number of key Democrats, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, praised the move. She tweeted, “This is a good call. Technology – and social media especially – has a powerful responsibility in preserving the integrity of our elections. Not allowing for paid disinformation is one of the most basic, ethical decisions a company can make.”
Other popular figures, such as Brad Parscale- Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign manager, had a completely different view. He tweeted, “Twitter bans political ads in yet another attempt by the left to silence Trump and conservatives. Wouldn’t be surprised if @twitter lifted the ban after 2020.”
You might be asking yourself, “Why such a drastic move?” Well…let’s read some of the reasons Jack Dorsey provided.
“A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money.
While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions.
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.”
Though a lot of people might have contrasting opinions about the ban on political ads and also considering the fact that it might be impossible to quantify the exact impact social media platforms have on political campaigns, most of us will surely agree that they do have a significant role to play as evidenced by the 2016 US presidential campaign. What’s your own take? Do you think this was the right move? Or do you think Twitter should promote free political expression? Join the conversation and get in touch with us for more information.