Twitter declared a ban on all advertisements about political candidates, elections, and controversial policy issues such as abortion and immigration on Wednesday.
This significant shift comes as a response to rising concerns that politicians are using social media to deceive voters before the election.
According to the Washington Post, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced the move through multiple tweets.
“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,” Dorsey said.
We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought. Why? A few reasons…?
— jack ??? (@jack) October 30, 2019
The announcement covers ads designed to influence elections, including ballot measures, as well as those that address “issues of national importance.” Reports say the new rules will go into effect late November on a global scale.
The change was met with mixed reviews, some believing the move would not affect what users tweet and share on their own. In fact, Teddy Goff, who most recently served as Hillary Clinton’s senior advisor, believes the rule is insufficient if it doesn’t address “organic and algorithmic spread of hate speech and discrimination and dishonesty.”
Daniel Kreiss, a professor of media and journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, also critiqued the new rule, stating the ban could cause trouble for down-ballot candidates with much smaller followings online. He said Twitter ads are “one of the ways that candidates get their message in front of a public whose attention is extremely divided and fragmented.”
Despite the critics and opposing opinions from Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, who believes the large social media platforms should not stand in the way of politicians’ freedom of speech, Dorsey and Twitter went ahead with the ban.
Twitter executives then spent Wednesday explaining their decision as a matter of principle, also noting that political ad spending added up to less than $3 million during the 2018 midterm elections reports say. Senior analyst at eMarketer, Jasmine Enberg said, it’s “likely that political advertising doesn’t make up a critical part of Twitter’s core business.”