Dorsey explained in a series of Twitter posts that the company decided to stop political advertisers from receiving an unfair advantage in having their “highly optimized and targeted political message” reach more people by paying for that reach. He said the reach should be earned through user interaction with the post or account.
“A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet,” he wrote. “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.”
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.
— jack 🌍🌏🌎 (@jack) October 30, 2019
Dorsey continued justifying the ban by saying that political ads present challenges to public conversations as it allows for misinformation to spread quickly and at an overwhelming scale.
He added that it would “not be credible” if Twitter banned certain people from “gaming our systems to spread misleading info” but allows others who pay for a political ad to “say whatever they want.”
He argued that the decision was not about stifling free expression but rather to reduce the unfair advantage in allowing advertisers to pay for increased reach.
“Paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle. It’s worth stepping back in order to address,” Dorsey continued.
A final note. 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. It’s worth stepping back in order to address.
— jack 🌍🌏🌎 (@jack) October 30, 2019
Twitter’s announcement comes as Facebook is facing heat for its decision to not fact-check ads by politicians or their campaigns.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the House Financial Services Committee on Oct. 23 political ads made up too small a percentage of their business to justify the burden of fact-checking on his company.
“From a business perspective, the very small percent of our business that is made up of our political ads does not come anywhere close to justifying the controversy that this incurs for our company,” Zuckerberg said. “So, this really is not about money.”
He also told the committee that he believes in giving people a voice, including politicians and advocacy groups who otherwise would not be able to get their messages out into the public.
“We believe in a Democracy it is important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying,” he said.
Earlier this month, Facebook declined to ban an advertisement from President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign after Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s campaign requested it of the tech giant.
The ad in question shows clips of Biden with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko while stating, “Joe Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company.” Biden bragged last year that he threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid in 2016 unless Poroshenko, the president at the time, ousted the country’s top prosecutor. The 2020 candidate has denied any wrongdoing.
Facebook said their decision is grounded in “Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process.” Biden’s campaign slammed the decision saying that the ad is part of the spread of “objectively false information to influence public opinion poisons the public discourse and chips away at our democracy.”
The social media company received backlash for their decision.
In response to Twitter’s decision, the Trump campaign issued a statement saying that it was another attempt to silence conservatives as “Twitter knows President Trump has the most sophisticated online program ever known.”
“Will Twitter also be stopping ads from biased liberal media outlets who will now run unchecked as they buy obvious political content meant to attack Republicans?” Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale wrote.
Twitter bans political ads in yet another attempt by the left to silence Trump and conservatives. Wouldn’t be surprised if @twitter lifted the ban after 2020.
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) October 30, 2019
Details of Twitter’s new policy will be released on Nov. 15, while the ban will come into effect on Nov. 22, Dorsey said.
Zack Stieber contributed to this article