Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s take on political ads has put Facebook in deep waters. Jack on Wednesday sends out a tweet where he announced that twitter would be banning any form of a political ad campaign on the platform.
This came out after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended his decision of letting political ads bypass the policy that involves third-party fact-checking and ban over the propagation of false news. Over the past few years, Facebook has received a lot of heat from Congress regarding running political advertisements.
This month when putting under scrutiny for allowing Trump re-election campaign which consists of false accusations against an opponent, Zuckerberg defended by saying “Some people accuse us of allowing speech because they think all we care about is making money, and that’s wrong,” After twitter’s announcement Zuckerberg defended his company policy by stating “I don’t think it’s right for private companies to censor political ads or the news, Would we really want to block ads for important political issues like climate change or women’s empowerment?”
He also pointed out that several cable networks and platforms such as google run such ads without being questioned.
A final note. This isn’t about free expression. 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.
— jack 🌍🌏🌎 (@jack) October 30, 2019
Gone are the days when political campaign meant flyers, hoardings or a guy on a tempo shouting out the party’s symbol and candidate through a megaphone. Now, the campaign is majorly carried out on the platform that has millions of eyes glued to it every minute, i.e. Social Media. How many times have you read a forward or watched a video on various platforms and got enraged or emotional? Some of them are real while some are fabricated. The ad campaigns on WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have enough power to sway the outcome of an election. This imposes the companies to a great responsibility for fact-checking and eliminating fake and fabricated news from the platforms.
Reach of these ads is directly proportional to the amount spent by the campaigners to buy them.
Jack Dorsey in his tweet through his tweet brought up the necessity of screening misleading and disingenuous information. Throwing a jab Facebook Dorsey tweeted “For instance, it‘s not credible for us to say: “We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, but if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well…they can say whatever they want! ” He also spoke about the reach of a campaign should be earned not paid for.
Dorsey’s decision has received praise from eminent personalities such as Hillary Clinton who considers this to be the right decision that would improve the American democracy scenario. While some still think advertisements should neither completely removed or left completely unchecked, regulation is the actual solution.
For now, Zuckerberg is sticking to his line that it’s not Facebook’s job to police paid political speech. But Dorsey’s announcement was the biggest, most prominent threat to that argument. Twitter wasn’t the first — TikTok also said it would ban political advertising earlier this month — but as the platform that dominates much of the political and cultural discussion, the decision carries extra weight.
Zuckerberg on Wednesday left open a tiny window that he may change his mind, saying he’ll keep thinking about whether or not to allow political ads.
“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,” Zuckerberg said on the earnings call.
As we’ve seen over and over with Facebook, Zuckerberg’s decision is final, until it isn’t. And it just might turn out that Dorsey will win the hottest debate in Silicon Valley right now.