Twitter has announced that it has banned take political advertisements on its platform, saying the ban begins in November.
In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey explained the rationale behind the tech company’s decision, stressing that political reach should be earned and not bought.
“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,” Dorsey 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 increasing velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale,” he added.
Twitter’s decision is coming amid intense pressure on tech firms to stop political ads with arguments that powerful micro-targeting abilities of tech platforms — which allow ads to be tailored to niche audiences and interest groups — were susceptible to abuse, particularly when spreading false or misleading claims.
Facebook is currently embroiled in a debate over its decision to allow political campaigns to push ads containing misinformation. The company has said it does not think it should be the arbiter of political speech, though it does stop companies and political committees from using false information in ads.
Dorsey said details of the ban will be published on November 15 while the policy will go into effect on November 22. He said the policy will include some exceptions, such as ads in support of voter registration.
“This isn’t about free expression. This is about paying for reach. And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle. It’s worth stepping back in order to address,” he said.
Dorsey’s announcement appeared to directly address concerns from conservative activist groups that limiting the purchase of targeted political ads on social networks amounts to censorship or a restriction on free speech.