Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced on Wednesday afternoon that the social media platform will no longer allow political advertising. The announcement came in a lengthy tweet thread that included an explanation.
“We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,” Dorsey said.
“A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money,” he explained.
He noted that it wasn’t fair to ban political advertising by candidates, but allow it for everyone else. He also noted the decision was made in order to maintain credibility for the platform. “For instance, 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!” he said.
He also called for “forward-thinking” regulation of political ads in order to “level the playing field.
“This isn’t about free expression. This is about paying for reach. And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” he concluded.
He policy will be enforced starting November 22, 2019. Ads supporting voter registration will still be allowed (look to see an uptick in groups registering voters).
Twitter was criticized for censoring pro-life advertising by groups like Live Action and Susan B. Anthony List, while at the same time not restricting advertising by Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups.
Creating a dependency on organic reach, however, will not end criticism of Twitter’s perceived bias as the platform is accused of shadow banning conservatives and trend manipulation. There is also concern among conservatives that their side of cultural issues on life, family, and marriage will be considered “political” while progressive messages highlighting “reproductive health” and LGBTQ issues will not be considered political.