In a move worthy of applause, twitter is banning political ads globally from November. The information was shared by the Company’s CEO Jack Dorsey on his twitter account on Wednesday. The decision, which was taken after a series of letters written to Twitter by Joe Biden, can be called a good move towards creating a more honest platform for its users.
The political advertisement has seen much evolution in the last 15 years. Where we used to see rallies and banners, today social media has become the greatest tool for advertising political parties and candidates during elections- but that’s not our main concern.
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.
— jack 🌍🌏🌎 (@jack) October 30, 2019
The problem runs much deeper than that, especially when we see it in the context of India and Indian elections; although social media ads have definitely affected elections worldwide. Before we get into these problems and see how they may affect people, let’s have a look at some statistics.
There are 627 million internet users in India currently. Out of these, 270 million people are active social media users. 270 million! At the end of 2019, the number of social media users in India is estimated to grow to 351.5 million. On average, Indians spend 2.4 hours on social media every day.
Now that we are aware of the important numbers, let’s take a pause and think. With that many people spending that much time on social media, it’s not surprising that it has the greatest influence on people. This has been recognized by politicians and used well. It has almost turned into an art these days. And it would not be wrong in other circumstances- political advertisement has always been out there.
But circumstances are different when we think of social media. Here, as we have seen in the last few years, political advertisement has turned so nasty that it’s causing not just circulation of fake news and misinformation but also used as a platform for political propaganda and a clash between differing ideologies.
The reason why the decision of Twitter to ban political ads is significant is that it’s a first step towards creating a social media environment that is free from hatred and misinformation. We have already seen how social media platforms are used to influence people, so taking this step won’t merely bring a positive social media environment into existence, but also prevent the circulation of fake news and spreading hatred among youth. We appreciate this move by Twitter.