In brief: Snapchat's advertising business isn't the biggest among social giants, but the company has decided the only way it will allow political ads inside the app is to be the "arbiter of truth" that Facebook refuses to be.
As we get closer to the 2020 election, social giants are facing increased scrutiny over the way they moderate their platforms. For example, everyone is worried about the easy ways Facebook can be weaponized to influence the public towards a certain political outcome by almost anyone willing to pay for it. And former executives seem to confirm that some companies simply can't stay out of politics.
Snap isn't nearly as big as Facebook, but it turns out it has implemented at least one feature the latter has yet to copy: fact-checking political ads.
During an interview with CNBC, CEO Evan Spiegel said all advertising is subject to the same review process. He noted the company does want to "create a place for political ads on our platform, especially because we reach so many young people and first-time voters we want them to be able to engage with the political conversation, but we don’t allow things like misinformation to appear in that advertising."
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn't seem to agree with that view, and has been trying to portray his company as the champion of "free speech." He defends the social giant's insistence on letting politicians lie in ads by using China as a boogeyman that establishes a different kind of internet model in its country, one based around censorship and un-American values.
Twitter will start blocking all political ads globally starting tomorrow, save for some "cause-based" exceptions that must follow a strict set of rules. By comparison, Snap's position looks like the middle ground between Twitter and Facebook's, and it will be interesting to see if that's the best approach.
It's worth noting that Twitter and Snap have one thing in common: they both have an advertising business that's considerably smaller than what Facebook or Google have. The latter, however, has seen much less scrutiny over its advertising policies, even if it may offer the most comprehensive microtargeting tools.