What just happened? While Facebook seems content on taking a hands-off approach with respect to political ads, Twitter has decided to stop running them on its platform. The decision was announced by CEO Jack Dorsey, who made a series of remarks on the company's commitment to stopping the spread of misinformation on its platform.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said in a long thread that the company has decided to place a ban on all political ads and interest advocacy ads. The decision will take effect on November 22, and represents a significant change after the company has been dwelling on how to create an effective content policy for years.
Twitter will publish the final policy on November 15, but in the meantime it will notify advertisers that only ads that are in support of voter registration will be allowed. Dorsey thinks this course of action isn't likely to favor incumbents. He notes that "we have witnessed many social movements reach massive scale without any political advertising."
The idea is that political reach should be earned instead of bought, by letting people decide when to spread the message using retweets as opposed to the micro-targeting practiced by advertisers. The executive also noted the company would not be able to lie to its users about the profitability of misinformation, taking a subtle shot at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who recently described revenue from political ads as insignificant to his company's bottom line, despite the fact that experts have shown that political ad spending is about to reach an all-time high.
To put things in perspective, Dorsey said that Twitter wants to focus on solving the platform's root problems, and accepting money for political ads would only go against that goal. He also called for the need of new regulation that would ensure no internet company has the power to tip the balance in elections.
By contrast, Facebook has so far decided to keep its stance on letting politicians say anything under the guise of protecting free speech. That decision has backfired, with even own employees asking to rethink that strategy. Also, a man in California is now running for governor just to see how much one can lie in political ads before Facebook will decide it should take responsibility for paid content on its platform.