Twitter to ban all political ads ahead of 2020 US election

Photo courtesy: Pixabay
Photo courtesy: Pixabay

Twitter on Wednesday announced that it would ban all advertisements about political candidates, elections and major policy issues such as abortion and immigration. The announcement comes in response to growing concerns that politicians are using the massive reach of social media to deceive voters ahead of the 2020 United States election.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced the move in a series of tweets, stressing that paying for political speech has the effect of "forcing highly optimised and targeted political messages on people." 

"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.

The ban is a departure from the policy followed by other social media platforms like Facebook and Google-owned YouTube, which have defended their policies regarding political ads in recent weeks.

Twitter's new rules will be applied globally, published by mid-November and take effect later in the month, Dorsey said.

The new policy drew mixed reactions. Teddy Goff, who served as President Barack Obama's digital director in 2012 and as senior adviser to Hillary Clinton in 2016, said that, since the update by Twitter does not address the "organic and algorithmic spread of hate speech and discrimination and dishonesty", it is insufficient.

The political ad ban is also unlikely to have much impact on widely followed accounts, including President Donald Trump's, whose tweets already reach more than 66 million users each day.