by Gabriele Bonafede
“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…”
It is an epochal tweet. Followed by a thread launched a few minutes after 8 PM GMT by Jack Dorsey, founder and CEO of Twitter.
The following thread consisting of eight tweets reads as follows:
“A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money.”
“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.”
“Internet political ads present entirely new challenges to civic discourse: machine learning-based optimization of messaging and micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes. All at increasing velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale.”
“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.”
“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, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well…they can say whatever they want! 😉“
“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.”
“We’re well aware we‘re a small part of a much larger political advertising ecosystem. Some might argue our actions today could favor incumbents. But we have witnessed many social movements reach massive scale without any political advertising. I trust this will only grow.”
“In addition, we need more forward-looking political ad regulation (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.”
Obviously, this will impact first of all on the upcoming general elections called in UK for December 12th.
Commentary from journalist Carole Cadwalladr, known for having demonstrated the insane connections between Facebook and fake-news campainging on Brexit, has been particularly cheerful:
“This whole thread is absolutely brilliant. Destroys Facebook’s arguments. And demonstrates actual moral leadership. Who even knew that was possible in Silicon Valley?”
Will Facebook follow Twitter on this move to ensure a more neutral stance on the global political arena?
Currently, Jack Dorsey’s announcement on Twitter is going viral on the net.