Twitter said on Wednesday it will ban all political ads on its platform, a landmark move that comes in the backdrop of widespread concerns over election meddling. "We've made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,"CEO Jack Dorsey announced.
The Twitter decision will put pressure on Facebook, which has held the view that it won't fact-check political ads. There has been intense criticism of Facebook as the platform was used by politicians who sometimes ran false ads. It remains to be seen what move will Mark Zuckerberg make now.
Meanwhile, Ned Segal, Twitter's chief financial officer, tweeted separately on Wednesday that the microblogging site made less than $3 million from political ads in 2018.
"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," Dorsey said.
The ban on political ads on Twitter will become effective on November 22. Ads by candidates, as well as ads on issues will both be banned, while ads that encourage voter registration will be allowed. Dorsey said a full policy statement on political ads will be rolled out on November 15.
"Some might argue our actions today could favor incumbents ... But we have witnessed many social movements reach massive scale without any political advertising," Dorsey said.
All eyes are on Facebook now. In a response mailed to Presidential candidate Joe Biden's request to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to stop running false political ads, Facebook had categorically said it will not fact-check political ads.
"Our approach is grounded in Facebook's fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and the belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is ... Thus, when a politician speaks or makes an ad, we do not send it to third party fact checkers," Katie Harbath, Facebook's public policy director for global elections, said, according to The Verge.