- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said Wednesday that the platform will no longer run political ads anywhere in the world, saying that such ads risk influencing votes and a belief that “political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

In a Twitter thread explaining the decision, Mr. Dorsey tweeted that several factors motivated the company’s decision, including matters of credibility, and transparency and regulatory issues.

“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 tweeted. “Internet political ads present entirely new challenges to civic discourse: machine learning-based optimization of messaging and micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes. All at interesting velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale.”

Mr. Dorsey said the decision “isn’t about free expression” and that the company would aim to finalize the policy by Nov. 15. He said the policy will begin to be enforced the next week, on Nov. 22.

Brad Parscale, campaign manager for President Trump’s reelection bid, said in a statement that “Twitter just walked away from hundreds of millions of dollars of potential revenue, a very dumb decision for their stockholders.

“Will Twitter also be stopping ads from biased liberal media outlets who will now run unchecked as they buy obvious political content meant to attack Republicans? This is yet another attempt to silence conservatives, since Twitter knows President Trump has the most sophisticated online program ever known,” he said.

Twitter’s decision to drop political advertising comes as rival social media company Facebook has faced pressure from critics for taking the opposite approach, keeping political ads and rebuffing demands that they be censored if judged false or hateful.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed his decision in an address on free expression at Georgetown University earlier this month and said he did not believe political ads should be fact-checked.

“I think it would be hard to be biased against both sides, but look, right now we’re doing a very good job of making everyone angry at us,” Mr. Zuckerberg said at Georgetown earlier this month.

“I think that’s because my values on this and our beliefs don’t generally, they don’t hue to what either wing thinks we should be doing.”

His decision-making relating to political advertising later came under scrutiny from the House Financial Services Committee, during testimony over Facebook’s cryptocurrency venture, Libra.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat and committee member, grilled Mr. Zuckerberg over Facebook’s policy on political advertising, which she described as “allow[ing] politicians to pay to spread disinformation in 2020 elections and in the future.”

Last week, Facebook also announced new steps it would take to thwart its platform from being used as a weapon to interfere with electoral politics. Among the changes Facebook said it would make was the release of a new security tool to allow monitoring of elected officials and candidates for hacking attempts, labeling state-controlled media as such, more clearly identifying its fact checks, and investing $2 million in media literacy projects.

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