Twitter Banning All Political Adverts

Twitter is banning all political ads globally, starting November 22nd, according to tweets by the company’s CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday.

The changes will affect both candidate ads and issue ads, although ads encouraging voter registration will still be allowed, along with other exceptions. Jack Dorsey said a full Twitter policy will be made available to the public on November 15th.

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“Some might argue our actions today could favor incumbents,” Dorsey said. “But we have witnessed many social movements reach massive scale without any political advertising.”

The company’s decision comes after weeks of Facebook stumbling over the same issue. Earlier this month, Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign penned letters to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube asking that they refuse to run false or misleading political ads. Biden’s campaign had become the target of a series of ads placed by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign that made baseless claims regarding the Biden family’s relationship with the Ukrainian government.

In a response letter obtained by The Verge at the time, Facebook said that it would not be fact-checking claims made by politicians in ads placed on the platform.

“Our approach is grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and the belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is,” Katie Harbath, Facebook’s public policy director for global elections, said earlier this month. “Thus, when a politician speaks or makes an ad, we do not send it to third party fact checkers.”

Twitter has had some policies in place to keep politicians from making false statements on its platform, but has yet to use them. Earlier this summer, Twitter said that it would gray out tweets from public figures like Trump that violated its rules and restrict users’ abilities to share them, but hasn’t implemented it on any tweets so far.

In a USA Today op-ed on Tuesday, Facebook doubled-down on its policy to allow candidates to boost misinformation. “We shouldn’t become the gatekeeper of truth on candidate ads,” Harbath and Nell McCarthy, Facebook’s director of policy management, wrote.

“This isn’t about free expression,” Dorsey said. “This is about paying for reach. And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle.”

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