The presidential election in the United States will only take place in November 2020, but social networks already indicate how they will position themselves. Twitter, for example, will ban political ads from those who are already elected, those who are only candidates and from organizations.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced the decision on Wednesday (30) in a sequence of tweets. “We decided to stop all political advertising on Twitter around the world. We believe that the reach of political messages must be achieved, not bought, ”he said.
According to the executive, a message gains reach when people decide to follow the account that published it or share the content. “Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages to people. We believe that this decision should not be compromised by money ”.
Dorsey also said that internet advertising is very effective in commercial ads, but not in politics, “where it can be used to influence votes and affect the lives of millions”. If you noticed a hint to Facebook and scandals like Cambridge Analytica, know that the executive went further.
“For example, it is not acceptable to say, ‘We are working hard to prevent people from using our systems to spread misleading information, but if someone pays us to segment and force people to see your political ad … well … they can say what want ‘, ”he published.
Twitter will release its new advertising rules on November 15 and is expected to create exceptions to ads such as those that encourage users to register to vote. In order for advertisers to adapt to the change, the ban will only begin to apply on November 22.
“This is not about freedom of expression,” added Dorsey. “It is about paying for reach. “And paying to increase the scope of political discourse has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be able to handle.”
Zuckerberg wants to keep political ads on Facebook
In conference with shareholders held minutes after the sequence of tweets, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also dealt with political announcements and free speech. For him, however, publications paid for by candidates should be maintained.
He said he did not agree with the reasons that critics point to Facebook not banning political ads. “Some people accuse us of allowing this speech because they think that all we care about is making money. This is wrong, ”he said.
According to him, political ads represent less than 0.5% of Facebook’s estimated revenue for 2020. “The reality is that we deeply believe that political discourse is important and that is what is guiding us,” he continued.
“From a commercial point of view, it may be easier to choose a different path than the one we are taking,” he said. “But while we are working hard to remove content that can cause real danger, I think we also need to be careful when adopting more and more rules that restrict the way people can speak and what they can say.”
The statement comes weeks after Facebook announces that it will not do fact checking, nor will it be as strict with politicians’ publications. “In a democracy, I don’t think it’s right for private companies to censor politicians or the news,” argued Zuckereberg.
And, although controversial, the positioning has not hurt Facebook. On the contrary, the company recorded revenue of $ 17.7 billion in the third quarter of 2019. The result was 28% better compared to the same period in 2018.
The user base has also grown: there are now 2.4 billion people accessing the social network at least once a month. When Instagram and WhatsApp, others of its applications, are also taken into account, the company reaches 2.8 billion users.