Twitter’s not been in the news as much as Facebook has lately. That’s despite Twitter having its own long list of problems. There’s its problems with trolls; harassment; racists; misinformation; and so forth. On top of that has been Twitter’s lack of attention to doing much about any of this, beyond the bare minimum legally required (such as banning anything related to Nazis in Germany). Finally, there’s concerns about social media being misused in next year’s elections.
However, it looks like Twitter’s finally decided to do something possibly constructive for once. Twitter’s announced starting November 22, it’ll no longer carry political advertising. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced this via a series of tweets:
We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought. Why? A few reasons…?
— jack ??? (@jack) October 30, 2019
Some exceptions will be allowed, such as ads encouraging voter participation.
This makes for a contrast to Facebook’s lenient policies on political content, or considering the likes of Breitbart as a “news source.” NPR does note that two Democrats running for the presidency have already spent at least $1 million on Twitter advertising, Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke. (Elizabeth Warren trails with $902,000 in spending.)
That said, there’s a few possible downsides to this. One is that it won’t stop politicians from having free reign with their own Twitter accounts, as Donald Trump’s proven. Despite that, Trump’s campaign manager’s already complained about how this supposedly silences conservatives.
The other concern is that this might harm advocates for certain health issues. Between social networks’ use of algorithms and a broad band on “issue ads,” some fear it might stifle certain health topics, such as promoting HIV prevention.
Despite the possible downsides, it’s at least more effort than what Facebook’s putting in. That said, Facebook has a user base seven times the size of Twitter’s, so Twitter’s actions are barely just a start on the overall social media front.