Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced Wednesday his platform will no longer allow political advertisements.
Dorsey detailed his decision in a lengthy thread, warning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s defense of his policy allowing political ads potentially containing misinformation to go unchecked prompted his new regulation.
Users’ ability to expand should be earned, not paid for, Dorsey insisted.
“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 continued.
Political advertising on the web “has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” Dorsey argued.
“This isn’t about free expression,” he wrote. “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.”
Following Dorsey’s announcement, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, immediately shot back, characterizing the move as another attempt to quash conservatives online.
“Twitter just walked away from hundreds of millions of dollars of potential revenue, a very dumb decision for their stockholders,” Parscale said in a statement. “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?
“This is yet another attempt to silence conservatives, since Twitter knows President Trump has the most sophisticated online program ever known.”
Democrats hammered Zuckerberg for taking a hands-off approach to political advertising.
Facebook Vice President Nick Clegg issued a statement earlier this month, published in full on Facebook’s official blog, contending it’s not a tech company’s role to “referee political debate.”
“We don’t believe, however, that it’s an appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny,” said Clegg, adding, “we will not send organic content or ads from politicians to our third-party fact-checking partners for review.”
The decision outraged the Democratic National Committee, which demanded Facebook “fact-check” ads from Trump’s campaign, warning the social media network is not being anti-Trump enough.
DNC Chief Executive Seema Nanda told CNN earlier this month she was “deeply disappointed in Facebook’s decision to exempt statements from political candidates from its fact-checking policy” after Clegg announced the platform would not fact-check politicians.
“We know that Trump has an utter disregard for the truth,” Nanda said. “Social media platforms have a responsibility to protect our democracy and counter disinformation online. This is a serious missed opportunity by Facebook.”
Facebook announced the policy after the company refused a request from Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to remove a video ad by Trump’s re-election campaign that highlights the former vice president’s nefarious dealings with Ukraine.
The thirty-second advertisement, which The Trump campaign has spent $8 million to run, asserts Biden offered “Ukraine $1 billion to fire the prosecutor investigating a company affiliated with his son.”
The Biden campaign shot back, calling Facebook’s decision “unacceptable.”
Tech companies, Dorsey argued, shouldn’t employ algorithms to promote posts that users pay for, allowing wealthier users to reach a wider audience. Instead, he argued, users should organically develop virality with “earned reach.”
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