Twitter Is Banning Political Ads

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that the social network will not accept political ads starting on November 22, and promised more details when the final rules are published in two weeks.
October 30, 2019, 8:35pm
Image: Cole Burston/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On Wednesday, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey announced in a series of tweets that the social network will stop running political ads, effective November 22. The final policy will be shared on November 15, Dorsey tweeted, which will explain some of the nuances in the new policy. For example, ads that promote voter registration will still be allowed on the platform, Dorsey said.

Dorsey pointed to a slew of issues that make political advertising a dicey proposition, including algorithmic targeting, misinformation, and deepfakes. It’s somewhat unclear what, exactly, will count as a "political" ad but Dorsey noted that Twitter is stopping ads regarding "issues," even from non-candidates.

"We considered stopping only candidate ads, but issue ads present a way to circumvent," Dorsey tweeted. "Additionally, it isn’t fair for everyone but candidates to buy ads for issues they want to push. So we're stopping these too."

Twitter's decision stands in stark contrast to the approach taken by Facebook so far. In a speech at Georgetown University earlier in October, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook considered banning political ads but he believes that the company shouldn't decide what speech is acceptable or not. In that speech, Zuckerberg also implied that Facebook was created to help anti-war activism, or something. (It was really created as a gross way to rate classmates' looks.)

Dorsey seems to take a shot at Zuckerberg’s controversial statements, saying, "It‘s not credible for us to say: ‘We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well…they can say whatever they want!’”

Political ads aside, Twitter still has a problem with ads that promote harmful products like spyware and stalkerware, and in the past has let ads for white supremacist groups slip through the cracks of its advertising policies.