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  • Twitter’s ban takes effect on Nov. 22. Dorsey wrote on Twitter that paying for ads forces “targeted political messages on people.”

    Twitter’s ban takes effect on Nov. 22. Dorsey wrote on Twitter that paying for ads forces “targeted political messages on people.” | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 October 2019

Earlier this month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the company’s policy, saying it did not want to stifle political speech.

United States social media giant Twitter Inc will ban all political advertising globally on its platform next month, the company’s Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey said Wednesday.

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The move comes as social media platforms face pressure to block attempts to steer elections with false information, amid a heated campaign ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

"We've made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally," Dorsey said in a statement, adding that his firm “believes political message reach should be earned, not bought."

Twitter’s ban takes effect on Nov. 22. Dorsey wrote on Twitter that paying for ads forces “targeted political messages on people” with a power that “brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions.”

While many considered it an apparent swipe at Facebook as the other social media behemoth made a decision to not fact-check ads run by politicians, drawing ire from Democratic candidates running in the 2020 presidential election such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Earlier this month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the company’s policy, saying it did not want to stifle political speech.

Since about 68 percent of U.S. adults say they get their news from social media, according to a new Pew Research Center survey in 2018. According to a recent study by researchers at York College the way information is presented and disseminated through social media “has important implications for how people learn about politics.”

As fake news spread over social media, this also means that the information people think they know might be affected. In 2017, the Cambridge Analytica scandal showed the world the reach their Facebook content might have on their political decisions.
 
A whistleblower from the company, Christopher Wylie, told the Observer that they “exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on.”

This resulted in an inquiry by the U.K. Committee of Digital, Culture, and Media of the House of Commons. 

In one of its reports, the MPs argued to the existence of "alarming evidence" about the interference carried out by Cambridge Analytica in the elections of Argentina during the 2015 presidential campaign affecting the decisions of many when electing incumbent President Mauricio Macri over former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. 

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