Jack Dorsey, the Chief Executive Officer for Twitter, announced last month that his social media company would be banning all political advertising through the service. When this announcement was made, he noted that politicians should have to earn their vote and not pay for them through advertisements. This came after Mark Zuckerberg defended Facebook for not fact-checking political ads, which can lead to severe problems in a democracy. Jack Dorsey doesn’t believe Mark Zuckerberg is correct when he says political advertisements are a form of free expression. Since Twitter banned political advertisements, Politicians like Elizabeth Warren have questioned if the platform made the right decision.
The week of November 18th marked the implementation of these new guidelines, which have been revamped since the original comments made by Jack Dorsey. It still limits how political campaign advertisements can be maintained. The new directive mentions that content revolving around a political party, candidate or government is prohibited. This extends to any advertisements revolving around an election, ballot measure, referendum, legislation, directive, regulation or judicial outcome. Twitter’s new political ad guidelines also note that any advertisements found with this level of content or solicit votes through financial support are prohibited. All advertisements not following instructions will be immediately terminated from Twitter.
Non-Affiliated Political Groups
None of the guidelines mentioned with political advertisements revolved around groups that aren’t affiliated with political parties. Subsequently, Twitter has implemented a new category for advertisement guidelines called “Cause-Based”. Under this new category, individuals wanting to advertise with Twitter cannot educate or raise awareness revolving around economic growth and civic engagement. This extends to social equity cases and environmental stewardship. In a subclause, the guideline states that Cause-Based advertisements can drive the outcomes of judicial or legislative policies.
Twitter is also limiting the targeting capacity for political advertisements. Targeting now has limited restriction on geographic location, keyword interests and demographic audiences. Geographic targeting is available for state, region or province-level only depending on your Postal or Zip Code. All keywords revolving around political terms are limited going forward. Such as Liberal or Conservative.
The only exception to these political advertisements is news media publishers that have met the exemption criteria on Twitter. These sources can run ads referencing political issues, content or campaigns. However, these advertisements must be unbiased and can’t promote topics in favour of one political party. Subsequently, opinion pieces for news sources are officially banned from Twitter.