When it comes to the latest news from the head of Twitter, top political operatives are saying it won’t make a difference in 2020 presidential campaigns.
Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey said on Wednesday that the social media platform has made the decision to halt all political advertisements globally because, as they believe, “political message reach should be earned, not bought.”
“While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions,” Dorsey said, explaining the company’s move.
“These challenges will affect ALL internet communication, not just political ads. Best to focus our efforts on the root problems, without the additional burden and complexity taking money brings. Trying to fix both means fixing neither well, and harms our credibility. […] We considered stopping only candidate ads, but issue ads present a way to circumvent. Additionally, it isn’t fair for everyone but candidates to buy ads for issues they want to push. So we’re stopping these too.”
Does the change matter?
When it comes to the impact of Twitter’s policy change, it’s not clear it will make an impact on the company’s revenue with political advertisements.
Twitter CFO Ned Segal noted that the company’s decision was made based “on principle, not money.” According to Segal, the “political ad spend for the 2018 US midterms was [less than $3 million]” and there’s “no change to [their] Q4 guidance.”
Co-founder of Flex Point Media and political strategist Tim Cameron isn’t too convinced that the platform’s policy change will do any damage in either direction.
He said in a tweet, following Twitter’s announcement, that it will get “a lot of buzz, but not have a huge impact” because “their ad units suck and are ineffective.”
Noting his company has made over $50 million worth of advertisements in the past two years, he said less than $10,000 was on Twitter.
Additionally, Cameron suggested in another tweet, “Twitter was probably tired of getting questions from shareholders and advertisers asking… ‘why are both Facebook and Google getting 100x the amount of ad dollars from political organizations? Do you feel your ads perform as well as those platforms?”
IJR has reached out for further comment but has not received a response prior to publication.
Digital director for Trump’s 2020 campaign responded to Cameron, “Platform/tools v shitty too. Trump tweeting saved them.”
Platform/tools v shitty too.— Text TRUMP to 88022 (@GaryCoby) October 31, 2019
Trump tweeting saved them.
Top politicians have tossed their opinion into the ring
A few politicians have offered their comments regarding Twitter’s announcement, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Clinton was among those who applauded Dorsey, as she called it “the right thing to do for democracy in America and all over the world.” She then questioned Facebook on if they would follow in Twitter’s footsteps.
“It’s the rare triumph of the public good over the bottom line,” he tweeted, adding, “I hope Facebook follows suit or at least verifies and stands by the accuracy of political ads on its platform.”
2020 Democratic hopeful Beto O’Rourke’s digital director wrote on Twitter:
organic misinformation is about 1000x the problem that paid misinformation is, particularly on twitter.— Rob Flaherty (@Rob_Flaherty) October 30, 2019
the revenue doesn't matter for them and they get credit despite leaving their biggest problem untouched.
However, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale wasn’t too thrilled about the “dumb decision,” as he called it, adding it is “yet another attempt by the left to silence Trump and conservatives.”
Facebook stands firm on its political advertisement policy
Although receiving calls to follow in Twitter’s steps, Facebook seems to be set for now with their political advertisement policy.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg defended his company’s policy, as he wrote on Facebook:
“In a democracy, I don’t think it’s right for private companies to censor politicians or the news. And although I’ve considered whether we should not carry these ads in the past, and I’ll continue to do so, on balance so far I’ve thought we should continue.
[…] Some people accuse us of allowing this speech because they think all we care about is making money. That’s wrong. I can assure you, from a business perspective, the controversy this creates far outweighs the very small percent of our business that these political ads make up.”
Zuckerberg added, “The reality is that we believe deeply that political speech is important and should be able to be heard, and that’s what’s driving us.”
With Facebook’s policy, political advertisements from politicians “are generally not subjected to fact-checking.”
Check out Zuckerberg’s post below:
We just shared our community update and quarterly results. Here’s what I said on our earnings call. — Before we…Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Twitter is expected to share its new advertisement policy by November 15, and it will go into effect on November 22.