Jessica Goodfellow
Oct 31, 2019

Twitter CEO reveals ban on all political advertising

Jack Dorsey said internet advertising is "incredibly powerful and very effective" but comes with "significant risks to politics".

Twitter CEO reveals ban on all political advertising

Twitter is to ban all political advertising from its platform globally, chief executive Jack Dorsey has revealed.

The co-founder announced the news via a tweet on Wednesday (30 October), saying the company believed political messages "should be earned, not bought".

The ban will be enforced from 22 November, with full details released by 15 November. Ads in support of voter registration would not be affected by the ban, Dorsey said.

Dorsey outlined the reasons behind the ban through a series of tweets, saying: "While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics."

Internet political ads, he said, presented "entirely new challenges to civic discourse", including "machine learning-based optimization of messaging", "micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes".

"It's not credible for us to say: 'We're working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well...they can say whatever they want!'," he added.

Dorsey also called for more "forward-looking political ad regulation" but acknowledged this was "very difficult to do".

"Ad transparency requirements are progress, but not enough. The internet provides entirely new capabilities, and regulators need to think past the present day to ensure a level playing field," he said.

The move has immediately split America's political parties, who are currently campaigning for the 2020 election. Democrats including Hillary Clinton praised the decision, calling it “the right thing to do for democracy in America and all over the world.” Meanwhile Brad Parscale, manager of President Donald Trump's re-election campaign, said the ban was "yet another attempt by the left to silence Trump and conservatives".

It follows ByteDance's TikTok, which revealed a blanket ban on all political advertising earlier this month. Conversely, social media rival Facebook recently ruled out a ban on political ads. 

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