On Wednesday Oct. 30, Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey announced that the social media platform would no longer allow the placement of political or policy-related advertisements. This comes directly after Facebook’s decision to continue to allow political ads, citing an infringement on free speech.
Twitter, which is a private company, has the right to block political ads on its platform and is allowed to reject any content from its platform that it seems fit. Earlier in the month, Chinese media app TikTok was the first social media site to ban political ads, and many believe this ban will not stop here.
The controversial ban has sparked some outcry from both sides of the argument.
“In mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is,” said Katie Harbath, Facebook’s public policy director for global elections. “We therefore don’t believe that a private company should be determining for the world what is true or false in a politician’s statement.”
Dorsey believes otherwise.
“It‘s not credible for us to say: ‘We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, but if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad, well, they can say whatever they want!’” he tweeted.
So, how much does this ban really impact Twitter’s revenue? Not as much as you would think. According to Twitter financial executives, the social media platform made about $3 million in revenue during the 2018 political campaign. To put this into perspective, Twitter earned $2.61 billion in advertising revenue in 2018. It’s estimated that 12 percent of Americans use Twitter as a news source.
The biggest controversy over the ban stems from the idea that Twitter banned political ads because of Trump’s online ads campaign.
“Twitter banned political ads in yet another attempt by the left to silence Trump and conservatives. Wouldn’t be surprised if [they] lifted the ban after 2020,” tweeted Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager.
It was proven that during the 2016 campaign Russian agents purchased Tweets and promoted them in order to fragment the country and sway the opinions of voters. Following this, federal regulators called for new laws to regulate online ads. Dorsey claims that the ban on political ads is partially in response to this.
Twitter’s political ads ban will begin on Nov. 22.