Yesterday Twitter announced they will stop all political advertising globally. What do you think?

31 replies
Tell us why in the comments.


Some folks like @rrhoover have made the point that stopping political advertising could cause folks to influence voters in other, more subtle ways. I'm inclined to agree. I think of how influencers blur the boundaries of advertising and think political ads will be able to do the same. That said - I still think it's a good idea, at least to try and see if it can reduce the spread of false information. What are your thoughts?
Emily Hodgins
@rrhoover @abadesi IMO it's helpful. Some parties have much larger budgets than others, and although this money will still be spent in other places, this move at least helps to level one of the playing fields. If social platforms also find it too difficult to accurately check all ads for facts, this can help curb the spread of misinformation.
Anthony Dike 🌻🐝
@rrhoover @abadesi Political ads lead to political decisions that affect the world (ie US Pres. Race). Social media's power to influence and spread information shouldn't be taken lightly especially when it comes to the spreading of political ideas. I feel that this decision makes it so candidates have to actually put in work and "earn" that influence instead of throwing money into a machine that pumps out engagement. Influencer marketing is sure to receive an influx of political dollars. But Twitter has started the conversation, on a world scale, of a how unethical it is for political influence to be "Pay to play". I applaud jack
@rrhoover @antdke yes I'm glad he's used his influence to show platforms can put their foot down (instead of hiding behind "free speech")
Great Anthony
It's a great idea, but it's going to be bad for their business.
Andre Miranda
If it helps to reduce misinformation, it will be a great move/idea.
Emmanuel Hadoux
I'm a EU citizen living in the UK. Brexit is a mix of this and Cambridge Analytica, so I think it's a great idea. Making people go the extra mile to reach information will hopefully make them think a bit more instead of being force-fed with it.
Kristof Bernaert
it only proofs the point that the political fb ads are business critical for them Γ‘nd the fb audience is way more influenceable
Daniel Yowell
@ssstofff I'd be willing to wager all of the political ad spending on Facebook combined totals less than one percent of their total ad business. What they're afraid of losing is influence, not money.
Kristof Bernaert
@danyowell true, but important enough to turn that influence (one day) into money, their core business.
Ryan Hoover
@ssstofff Facebook's stance certainly isn't about money. As @danyowell mentions, political ads is a tiny % of their ad spend. The problem both Facebook and Twitter are attempting to address is very complex and unsolvable without a complete structuring of the system and perhaps society.
Kristof Bernaert
@danyowell @rrhoover what would a society structuring looks like? (no sarcastic question)
Emmanuel Hadoux
@rrhoover I don't completely agree with you, at least when it comes to political ads. I think this is very much down to the individual, about how easily you swallow the rubbish that is presented to you. So I think it's a matter of education and laziness of the individual rather than a society problem. There's a very easy solution that is almost impossible to put in place: make people think by themselves for themselves. That, to me, is different from an unsolvable problem.
Michael Musgrove
Business-wise it's foolish because they're not maximizing their revenue. If they're incapable of regulating who advertises what, then they don't have any control of their business. Their core values and ideology that guides their operations aren't rigid at all. That aside, it's a hollow gesture anyway, because the advertisements are a small fraction of the political content that's generated on Twitter, which is by far more influential and vexing.
Brendan Ciccone
@mbmusgrove you bring up a good point that the bulk of political content created on Twitter is unlikely coming from ads. People with a large enough reach could definitely negatively influence others.
Michael Musgrove
@brendanciccone Well, negatively or positively, depending on your viewpoint. But Influencer marketing is very common. A lot of people with sizeable followers are willing to post their political stances and often try to sway others all the time. Celebrities and athletes especially.
Dan Edwards
I'm all for this, the influence that political ads had on the result of Brexit and the US election on Facebook is obvious to me and no party should be able to target people with their propaganda via advertising. I'm happy that Twitter have taken this stance, but IMO Facebook is the main problem.
Lara Durrant
In theory it's a good idea, but I'm worried about how they plan to put the plan into motion, who they will target with this ban, how they are defining "political", how they will go about policing and enforcing the ban, and just whether they've truly thought through all of the potential ramifications.
@lara_durrant I hear you...great points raised. It would be great to see the guidelines and how they're planning to enforce the ban.
Kevin Moore
Big brother tech social engineering at its worst. Wasn't Twitter supposed to democratize information? Now we will still have political marketing, but it will just be less authentic. The law of unintended consequences, will make political misinformation worse while also limiting messaging reach. Let all the people hear everything and let them be accountable for their decisions.
anthony ware
It's a great start, and we need to remember that adverts have been manipulating the public for centuries. Twitter and other platform will need to remain vigilant because as quickly as they shut down a method, there are people and orgs working just as hard for workarounds to achieve the results they want.
This is a hard problem to solve. I wish I knew how much ad revenue Twitter generated from this category of advertising, and what percentage of the pie he's sacrificing. Could be a PR move. But let's assume it isn't, that Twitter earns a Lot of revenue from political ads, and then let's prevent political ads. Or even let's pretend that Twitter is Facebook. These campaigns have significant Twitter ad budgets that have now been availed. If you don't ban politicians outright, then suddenly their ad budgets get redirected towards Twitter users, astroturfing, etc instead of Twitter executives and employees. This decision seems to necessarily lead to the banning of all politicians off the platform. If they don't, then there will be market demand to render high ROI workarounds that innovate around astroturfing or purchasable Twitter influencers as a whole new class of product to meet the mutated demand for cheap, persuadable audiences. Gerrytweeting! Astroturfing and bots are technical problems to solve, that I think can be solved, but how can we ever know that other users who are talking about politics aren't being paid off-platform? Do we ban political discussions altogether? That doesn't seem democratic. But Gerrytweeting doesn't seem like a problem that can be easily solved, if it's rendered cheap enough. And Gerrytweeting is a product with a target demographic of sketchy politicians. It just so happens that sketchy politicians are eager and able to spend hand-over-fist on anything that cements their power. So... are all political endorsements banned? What about just for users beyond a certain follower-count, where we classify influencers as "public utilities" subject to strict filtering on account of their social responsibility? That doesn't seem right. I can't think of a way to prevent political ideology from having its tendrils turbocharged by moneyed technology anywhere where there's hierarchy... anywhere where one user can earn the ability to instantly reach more than other users can. How's my thinking here? Am I missing something? How's this for a root-level solution: tear down technology-facilitated hierarchical algorithms and build alternative technologies and algorithms that reward content with reach based on the quality of the content as it is assessed on a case-by-case basis, and not based on the source of the content or the cash that's feeding it. In the context of Twitter V2, your Twitter feed might elevate the visibility of content based on the content's quality, without any initial bias applied based on the source of the content. Perhaps users can manually apply bias to those who they follow, so the algorithm will treat Johnny Popular's tweets as equal in value to Tiny Tim's unless the user goes out of their way to weight Johnny Popular's more. Money can't make the content louder. A follower count can't make the content louder. The content's quality and the follower's deliberate, individual weighting makes the content louder. In this version, we don't delegate weighting of social value determination to technical algorithms that must find utility functions to optimize against (like "money" or "follower count" or even "purchased engagement"). Instead, we delegate weighting of social value determination to human beings that decide based on their feelings. Remove the technical hierarchical biases, treat all ideas as equal, and allow the wisdom of the crowd to determine what gets seen by allowing each individual to not only select their information sources, but to personally calibrate them. Computers are great at some things, but democracy implies ideological equality, which requires a democratic determination of ideological reach. As much as I believe we can outsource democratic processes to technology over time, I don't think we can outsource the principles. *This* problem seems like a fun social puzzle with a technical solution waiting to be discovered, and not some impossible conflict between technical inadequacy and Constitutional sanctity.
Corey O
"Everything is art. Everything is Politics." -Ai Wei Wei
Rob Lubow
Elections shouldn't be won by ad spend. They should be won by ideas that spread because of their merits or how well they are latched onto by the public. Paying to get in front of people sort of tips the scales away from a purely ideological decision.
Jim Kleban
I'm biased having been a Facebook employee, a PM who worked on reducing the spread of misinformation no less. My view is that this does hurt lesser known candidates, and I support increased transparency, monitoring, and regulation instead for political advertising as a way to combat the harms here from social media. Someone said this is tricky as Jack's move at first glance appears correct. At a deeper look, I do not believe it is.
PrettyWitty 45
Sucks for those of us who have common sense and understand about fake news. I personally enjoy reading news from across the spectrum from far right to far lefy. Bizarro world.
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