(Related to the Ethical Dilemma—“Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Says the Social Network Should Not Be ‘Censoring Politicians’”): “Twitter Bans Political Ads after Facebook Refused to Do So”


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“Twitter Bans Political Ads after Facebook Refused to Do So”

According to the article, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced recently that the company is axing political ads from its site.

Twitter’s stock dropped more than 1% in after hours trading following the announcement.

The move sets Twitter in stark contrast to Facebook, which has received criticism from lawmakers and its own employees in recent weeks over its policy to neither fact check nor remove political ads placed by politicians. Facebook has argued it should not be the one to make decisions about its users’ speech and that politician’s speech is newsworthy. Earlier this month, Chinese video app TikTok became the first major social media platform to ban political ads from its platform.

Dorsey explained the company’s reasoning behind the decision in a series of tweets.

“A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet,” Dorsey wrote. “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.”

Dorsey said it would be “not credible” for Twitter to tell users it is committed to stopping the spread of misinformation while allowing advertisers to target users with political ads just because they’ve paid Twitter to do so.

Without naming Facebook or its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Dorsey seemed to take a shot at the company’s rhetoric around political ads. Zuckerberg has recently been discussing the importance of “free expression” in connection to Facebook’s political ad policy, like at a Georgetown University event dedicated to that ideal.

In his final tweet on the topic, Dorsey said pointedly, “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.”

In the Georgetown speech, Zuckerberg said Facebook once considered banning political ads as well and that they don’t even make up a significant portion of the business. But ultimately, Zuckerberg warned about the difficulty of drawing a line in such a policy and said, “when it’s not absolutely clear what to do, we should err on the side of greater expression.”

Zuckerberg held firm on his political ads policy on Facebook’s earnings call, which came about an hour after Dorsey’s announcement. Facebook declined to comment, and pointed to Zuckerberg’s prepared remarks from the company’s earnings call.

Twitter CFO Ned Segal tweeted that the company will see no change to its Q4 guidance based on the change. Like at Facebook, political ad spend on Twitter is a relatively small portion of the business, clocking in at less than $3 million in sales during the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, Segal said. Dorsey addressed the slippery slope theory in his tweets explaining the move, saying Twitter also considered barring only candidate ads, but said issue ads present a way around this. In the end, he said, Twitter decided to ban issue ads as well since the company believed it’s unfair to allow everyone but the candidates themselves to buy ads on topics they care about.

This is not the first time Dorsey has taken a jab at Zuckerberg as the entire tech industry continues to receive mounting scrutiny over its privacy and competitive policies. At an event in New York last week, Dorsey said “hell no,” to the question of whether he would join Facebook’s new cryptocurrency association, according to The Verge.

Dorsey’s announcement was quickly praised by several key Democrats. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote on Twitter, “This is the right thing to do for democracy in America and all over the world. What say you, @Facebook?”

House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-R.I., also said it was a “good” step, adding, “Your move, Google/Facebook.” Cicilline is one of the leaders of the bipartisan House inquiries into Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., also applauded Twitter’s new policy. Ocasio-Cortez, who questioned Zuckerberg on political ads at a hearing last week as a member of the House Financial Services Committee, tweeted, “Not allowing for paid disinformation is one of the most basic, ethical decisions a company can make.”

President Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign manager Brad Parscale called Dorsey’s announcement “a very dumb decision” in a statement posted to Twitter. Parscale said it was a move to “silence conservatives,” even though the policy applies to all political parties.

Borrowing from Zuckerberg’s approach, Dorsey made a call for regulation of his industry. But Dorsey’s appeal was for “more forward-looking political ad regulation” that takes into account the unique capabilities of internet advertising. Twitter will begin enforcing its new policy on Nov. 22, Dorsey said, after it releases its final policy on Nov. 15.


(Related to the Ethical Dilemma): “Facebook Just Killed a Misleading Election Ad: Here’s Why”


Note: To assist you in addressing the article presented in the Ethical Dilemma, please also see the following article and its accompanying video at the above-referenced internet site:

“Facebook Just Killed a Misleading Election Ad: Here’s Why”

According to the article, Facebook allows politicians and political parties to lie or mislead in their paid advertisements, freeing them from the fact-checking the company applies to other ads.

But there is at least one way a political party can get in trouble with the social media platform in the middle of an election campaign: abusing intellectual property.

Recently, Facebook banned a British election video from the Conservative Party after the BBC complained that the footage distorted its journalism and could damage “perceptions of our impartiality.”

In the 15-second ad, senior BBC journalists were shown saying things like “pointless delay to Brexit” alongside a montage of protest footage and debates in parliament, all set to dramatic music. But the clips were from reporters quoting politicians’ own statements, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is campaigning in the December 12 election under the slogan “get Brexit done.”

According to Facebook’s ad library, the Conservative party spent less than £10,000 ($12,930) on the ad, which was viewed around 430,000 times. (The same person can view an ad multiple times.) The ad has been replaced with the following message in the library: “This ad was taken down because it goes against Facebook’s Intellectual property policies.”

The BBC said they initially asked the Conservative Party to take the ad down, but they declined. So the BBC approached Facebook, which banned it. Facebook said it was “a valid intellectual property claim from the rights holder, the BBC” because the Conservatives had used its footage without permission.

“Whenever we receive valid IP claims against content on the platform, in advertising or elsewhere, we act in accordance with our policies and take action as required,” a Facebook spokesperson said. Facebook’s advertising policies state “ads must not contain content that infringes upon or violates the rights of any third party, including copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity or other personal or proprietary rights.”

The social media giant’s policy on political ads has received harsh criticism from across the world. The scrutiny prompted Twitter to announce that it would limit political ads next month. The United Kingdom imposes strict rules on how broadcasters can report on politics, especially around elections. While newspapers are free to impart political biases, broadcasters must be impartial. The BBC often faces even more intense scrutiny because it is publicly funded.

Facebook did not address the BBC’s claim that its material had been used in a misleading way. It stuck purely to the legal arguments.

The Conservative Party did not respond to a CNN’s request for comment, but told the BBC, “All political parties make use of BBC content. We will be asking the BBC if in the interests of fairness they intend to complain about other political parties who use their content.”