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Twitter Will Ban Political Ads Amid 2020 Elections


Photo by Kon Karampelas


Twitter announced a ban on political ads Oct. 30, claiming to put an end to political reach, after Facebook's chief executive officer took heat at a congressional hearing.

Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey tweeted out the news declaring the site would no longer allow political advertising globally.

After making a final policy on Nov. 15, the ban officially took effect on Nov. 22.

Dorsey said political ads earn attraction when a person decides to follow an account or retweet, but when money is involved it forces, "highly optimized and targeted political messages on people."

Dorsey emphasized that there are multiple problems with paying for reach, one being the possible influence on politics.

"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 tweeted. 

According to Dorsey, political ads can affect civic discourse and fact-checking, increasing at a high speed. The ban is set to address all problems, sustain Twitter's credibility as a reliable social media platform.

Dorsey jabbed at Mark Zuckerberg for his unclear answers about political ad protocol during his testimony.

Facebook has not yet agreed to banning political ads. The company has also faced backlash for refusing to fact-check political ads.

A back and forth between Zuckerberg and Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, further pushed the company into scrutiny.

Ocasio-Cortez grilled Zuckerburg on the website's political ad policy when asking if the company would take down lies.

"Under your policy using census data as well, could I pay to target predominantly black zip codes and advertise them the incorrect election date," Ocasio-Cortez asked during the hearing, after news that Facebook allows politicians to share misinformation.

Assistant Professor at American University Scott Talan is a social media expert, who found Twitter's ban surprising due to the impact it might have on democratic candidates.

Talan believes that Trump will benefit from this bad because he is authentic with his tweets and has a huge following, the ban would only affect candidates that rely heavily on ads.

"I think it's going to reward more organic content, the question then becomes how authentic, real and trustworthy is that organic content," Talan said. "Is it organic with heavy agenda and half truth or is it organic and really part of a political dialogue."

Talan thinks that other social media websites may do the same, but are now waiting as Twitter embarks on this new journey. 

"They will be losing money from not having the ads of course, but it also changes the value proposition and perception of Twitter as a place for politics and news," Talan said.

Dorsey ended his mass tweets by saying the ban was not against freedom of speech but the ability to pay for political reach. 

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