accc digital platforms inquiry
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (Image: AP)

Twitter’s editorial policies have never been entirely fair, or even consistent. So the company’s latest commonsense decision has come as a surprise: Twitter will introduce a blanket ban on all political advertising.

Citing concerns around “highly optimised and targeted political messages” being forced on unwilling users, CEO Jack Dorsey has announced that — save for a few exceptions around voter registration to be clarified in mid-November — Twitter will ban paid political ads from November 22.

The move is being widely celebrated, and follows Google’s recent ban of political advertising in Canada. Google, however, only put that down to the country’s tighter transparency laws. The decision also contrasts wildly with the actions of Dorsey’s counterpart at Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Despite facing increasing pressure post-Cambridge Analytica and the whole Russian interference fiasco, Zuckerberg refused to even ban false advertising this month.

Facebook employees have this week petitioned to regulate false political ads to the same standard as regular ones, but Zuckerberg argues that a blanket ban would favour incumbents. This is an argument specifically dismissed by Dorsey:

Ahead of the 2020 election, Zuckerberg has only committed to ending commissions for employees selling political ads and “clearer fact-checking labels“. The Facebook CEO was already getting grilled in congress last week for the inadequacy of these measures. The pressure is only going to get worse from here…

Peter Fray

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