But some of its users might face an unintended consequence or two.
Among those potentially affected could be public-interest nonprofits eager to reach an audience larger than their official followers, challengers to incumbent officeholders, and – obviously – political consultants who make a living placing ad buys for their candidates.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said in a series of tweets that paid political messages in the targeted environment that social media enables can be fraught.
We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach s… https://t.co/C8qijirtXW
— jack (@jack) 1572465908000
A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that d… https://t.co/t2JVc5SOS8
— jack (@jack) 1572465910000
“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,” he wrote.
While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings… https://t.co/JxFi7Zf6iX
— jack (@jack) 1572465910000
Security and privacy researchers and some Democratic politicians hailed Twitter’s decision as an important way to prevent campaigns from feeding streams of misinformation to targeted voters. The move drew a sharp contrast between Twitter and its much larger rival Facebook, which has come under fire in recent months for its policy of not fact-checking political ads.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shot back quickly, using an earnings conference call Wednesday afternoon to offer an impassioned defense of what he called his company’s deep belief “that political speech is important.”
“This is complex stuff. Anyone who says the answer is simple hasn’t thought about the nuances and downstream challenges,” Zuckerberg said. “I don’t think anyone can say that we are not doing what we believe or we haven’t thought hard about these issues.”
Google did not have an immediate comment on Twitter’s policy change.
Trump’s campaign manager called Twitter’s change a “very dumb decision” in a statement Wednesday.
“This is yet another attempt to silence conservatives, since Twitter knows President Trump has the most sophisticated online program ever,” campaign manager Brad Parscale said.
Political advertising makes up a small sliver of Twitter’s overall revenue. The company does not break out specific figures each quarter, but said political ad spending for the 2018 midterm election was less than $3 million. It reported $824 million in third-quarter revenue.
Candidates spend significantly more purchasing ads on Facebook than on Twitter, company records show.
The issue rose to the forefront earlier this fall when Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, refused to remove a misleading video ad from President Donald Trump’s campaign that targeted Biden.
In response, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another presidential hopeful, ran her own ad on Facebook taking aim at Zuckerberg. The ad falsely claimed that Zuckerberg endorsed President Donald Trump for re-election, acknowledging the deliberate falsehood as necessary to make a point.
Dorsey said the company is recognising that advertising on social media offers an unfair level of targeting compared to other mediums. It is not about free expression, he asserted.
“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,” he tweeted. “It’s worth stepping back in order to address.”
Zuckerberg said he has also considered banning political ads, but remains wary of the move’s impact. “It’s hard to define where to draw the line,” he said. “Would we really block ads for important political issues like climate change or women’s empowerment?”
A ban on such “issue ads” could limit the ability of such groups to reach wider audiences or disadvantage them in other ways. Ryan Schleeter, a spokesman for the environmental group Greenpeace, said a lot will depend on how Twitter defines “political.”
What the group doesn’t want to see, Schleeter said, is major oil companies running “misleading, greenwashing advertising unchallenged” while “those who confront corporate power are censored.”
Political challengers will also find likely find themselves at a disadvantage, since they don’t generally have the name recognition or money that their opponents do, said Matt Shupe, a Republican political strategist.
“If you’re a challenger, advertising allows you to make up that difference,” he said. “It’s very hard to organically grow an audience for a state assemblyman campaign.”
Shupe, whose public relations firm has won awards for its use of ads on Facebook, called Twitter’s decision “incredibly dumb.”
Twitter said it will make some exceptions, such as allowing ads that encourage voter registration. It will describe those in a detailed policy it plans to release on Nov. 15, and the policy will take effect Nov. 22.
Twitter will still allow politicians to freely tweet their thoughts and opinions, which can then be shared and spread. Trump’s Twitter feed in particular is known for often bombastic and controversial tweets that are shared widely.
Federal campaigns are expected to account for the majority of advertising dollars on broadcast and cable channels during the 2020 election, according to advertising research firm Kantar. They will also be responsible for roughly 20% of the total $6 billion in spending on digital ads.
Facebook, Twitter Instagram: Tips & Tricks To Keep Social Media Private
21 Feb, 2019
It seems counter intuitive – after all, social media helps you share your opinions and speak to a larger audience. But thanks to rampant identity theft and online stalking, there is a solid argument to be made to target your social posts instead of keeping them public. Karan Bajaj shows you how.
Modify Privacy Settings
21 Feb, 2019
Facebook has a dedicated section for privacy settings and tools (accessible in the Settings menu). In this section, you can choose who can see your future activity. For privacy, select Friends instead of Public. Also on the same page, you get the option to limit accessibility of your existing posts on the social network to only friends instead of everyone. You can also choose individual settings for items such as friend requests, email addresses access, phone number access and who can see your friends list. To step up your privacy, switch all these settings to ‘Friends Only’. We also recommend switching off access to search engines outside of Facebook.
Limit Info On Your Profile
21 Feb, 2019
By default, all the information in your profile is in the public domain. To change this, click on your profile picture on the top bar to view your profile. On this page, you can view all the information available to anyone who opens your profile page. Click the edit button (the small pencil icon) that appears inside the intro box and you can then customize your info. We recommend switching off all the items you want to keep private from prying eyes.
Hide Your Photos
21 Feb, 2019
Many regular Facebook users tend to upload a lot of photos to share with friends and family. However, you don’t want everyone who visits your profile to have access to all these memories either. One way to hide them is to delete them from Facebook after a few months. The other way is to edit the privacy settings for each photo album. Click on Photos > Albums. For any album that you want to limit access to, click the options button (the three dots on the right corner) on an individual album and choose edit. This will open the privacy settings for the album for which you can select only friends, family or only you.
21 Feb, 2019
Quite like Instagram, Twitter lets you hide your tweets from the world — this means they’ll only be visible to your existing followers and won’t show up in searches. You will also have to individually approve new followers from that point forward. To do this, go to the ‘Settings and Privacy’ section and look for ‘Privacy and Safety’. Here, you can switch-on the feature marked ‘Protect your Tweets’.