October 30, 2019

"We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought. Why? A few reasons..."

"A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money. 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. 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. These challenges will affect ALL internet communication, not just political ads. Best to focus our efforts on the root problems, without the additional burden and complexity taking money brings. Trying to fix both means fixing neither well, and harms our credibility. For instance, it‘s not credible for us to say: 'We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well...they can say whatever they want!' We considered stopping only candidate ads, but issue ads present a way to circumvent. Additionally, it isn’t fair for everyone but candidates to buy ads for issues they want to push. So we're stopping these too. We’re well aware we‘re a small part of a much larger political advertising ecosystem. Some might argue our actions today could favor incumbents. But we have witnessed many social movements reach massive scale without any political advertising. I trust this will only grow. In addition, we need more forward-looking political ad regulation (very difficult to do). Ad transparency requirements are progress, but not enough.... 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."

Tweets Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter.

49 comments:

Nick said...

Typical. Now they get to decide what is "political" advertising along the same standard used for "hate speech."

Roger Sweeny said...

One word: Astroturf

Ice Nine said...

"...and besides, how can Twitter continue to be effective in our banning and demonetizing of conservative viewpoints on Twitter if we allow those deplorable bastards to turn right around and *buy* exposure here?!"

Owen said...

How does this work? If some Twitter user says "Vote for X" that will trigger a warning? Or a ban? If done twice, the account is closed?

What if the user says "X is an interesting candidate with useful ideas, let's discuss"? Ban? Summary execution?

stutefish said...

Finally someone gets it. First sensible thing I've heard from GoogFaceTwit since this conversation started.

Matt said...

Your move Mark.

James K said...

@jack will get to decide what constitutes “political.” OFA, labor unions good.

Greg the class traitor said...

"A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people.

Honest translation:

If we accepted political ads, we'd have to accept them from Republicans, and run them

We're working hard to drive off our site everyone who supports the Right. Unlike banning only Republican ads, we think we CAN get away with this

So, next year, the only people on Twitter who will be retweeting things will be people on our side, which is to say: Democrats

Mike Sylwester said...

The Russians will just buy ads on MySpace instead.

rcocean said...

I wonder if the shareholders are happy with a lower stock price so Jack Dorsey can play politics by deciding which ads Twitter will accept and which one's he won't.
BTW, according to "Libertarian theory" Jack should be accepting ALL political ads because more $$$$. But here he is, not doing that. Its like he's not motivated by money.

AND he's going to accept SOME ads. Hmm...I wonder which ones? "Political" is such a VAGUE word isn't it? i think Twitter, will define it any way they wish.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less." "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."

n.n said...

Trump broke the Nit-Twitter revolution.

Their response is forward-looking, progressive. One step forward, two steps backward.

n.n said...

The Russians will just buy ads on MySpace instead.

The next session will be a multicast with quantum technology that overlays and alters human consciousness, or at least it's expression.

n.n said...

Jack should be accepting ALL political ads because more $$$$. But here he is, not doing that. Its like he's not motivated by money

He may not be beholden to market ("democratic") forces, which implies a single/central (a.k.a. monopoly) alternative source of capital and control.

Yancey Ward said...

If I am understanding this correctly, and that is a big if, it appears you can open an account and make a political statement, so Trump's tweets would still be allowed along with all the retweets, but you can't buy retweets or eyeballs (How do you even do that on Twitter?). I assume there are ads for lots of stuff on the twitter feeds, too (I don't really notice since I almost never few a Twitter feed, just individual tweets that get posted on other forums).

My cynicism tells me this will be carefully implemented in such a way to let Democrats still buy political advertising from Twitter, but not allow Republicans to do so.

Aussie Pundit said...

I agree with him.
Leave aside for a moment his idealistic waffle which is easy to poke holes in; he's tackling a very real problem that exists across social media.

What happens is that Jane starts using twitter/facebook/whatever, and at first has an unfiltered experience. but over time her feed becomes increasingly skewed towards either radical or special-interest viewpoints. Numerous large, well-funded campaigns make subtle, targeted actions - specifically to her, based on her demographic profile, interests, friendships, and other personal characteristics - to incrementally shift her focus and interests in the desired direction. She sees a catchy headline and clicks on it; she sees an intriguing profile, and decides to follow it. A worthy cause pops up in her feed, and what's the harm in adding that to your interests? Within a couple of years she's neck-deep in propaganda, and part of the baying online crowd.

It is nudge theory writ large. With enough money you can shift many people online toward your point of view, and they will think they shifted that way all on their own. They might not even realise they've shifted at all.

Jack Dorsey knows more than us about the vast, interconnected propaganda wars that go on behind the scenes. For whatever reason, he's decided to get out of it, probably due to medium-term rather than short-term concerns.

n.n said...

An alternative explanation: Chinese market. Twitter wouldn't be the first corporation to take a knee in order to conform with their central/singular demands. That said, maybe the communists/socialist/fascist axis is a necessary, inevitable correction of what has evolved as an unsustainable progressive liberalization (i.e. monotonic divergence) in Western societies, wicked solutions, inclusive.

narciso said...

the founders of the digital revolution, were very clear that only progressive thought be conveyed, that was the notion up until 2012, when Zuckerberg Dorsey and co, lent their platforms to Obama, then came Cambridge analytica, it was utterly destroyed for offering crimethink on both sides of the Atlantic,

BidenFamilyTaxPayerFundedCrackPipe said...

Shorter Jack dorsey - we are OK with all democrat candidate promotion, but because we hate anyone not a democrat, and we think that all speech relating to not a democrat = false or fake, we are stopping all of it... for now. until we can promote democrats only without it being a problem later on.

RobKleine said...

Couldn't Dorsey have said that in 140 characters or less?

tim in vermont said...

"and besides, how can Twitter continue to be effective in our banning and demonetizing of conservative viewpoints on Twitter if we allow those deplorable bastards to turn right around and *buy* exposure here?!”

Exactly. They have been banning conservatives for many months now, they pass around blocklists, this is just a way to plug a leak in their speech firewall.

tim in vermont said...

"t is nudge theory writ large. With enough money you can shift many people online toward your point of view, and they will think they shifted that way all on their own. They might not even realise they've shifted at all.”

They, they, they, not you, right?

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HoodlumDoodlum said...

I have seen Planned Parenthood ads on Twitter. I doubt those will stop!

For a while I got nothing but Twitch/video game ads, then a bunch of NBA/basketball ads. I looked at the implied preferences under my account a while ago, but I skip past them all so quickly it wasn't worth correcting.

Eh, we'll see.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Article - Supremes Slow Roasts Minnesota Lawyer in Polling Place T-Shirt Fight

State law barred t-shirts/clothing with political messages in voting locations. The Supremes highlighted problems with setting a reasonable standard for what should count as political.

Clip:

JUSTICE ALITO: How about a shirt with the text of the Second Amendment?

MR. ROGAN: Your Honor, I — I – I think that that could be viewed as political, that that — that would be — that would be -­-

JUSTICE ALITO: How about the First Amendment?

(Laughter.)

MR. ROGAN: No, Your Honor, I don’t -­ I don’t think the First Amendment. And, Your Honor, I –
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: No — no what, that it would be covered or wouldn’t be allowed?

MR. ROGAN: It would be allowed.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: It would be?­


But Jack'll settle things, no problem.

Francisco D said...

It is his business to do as he likes. If you don't like it, find an alternative platform.

From someone who has never used Twitter or Facebook. I reserve my social media foolishness for the Althouse blog.

tim in vermont said...

"With enough money you can shift many people online toward your point of view, “

With all the money they have spent, they have barely moved the needle on Trump. They have just amped up the passion of the people on both sides.

narciso said...

except credit card and bank boards are blocking access to patreon, for those who have the wrong mindset, so it won't be that easy,

daskol said...

Twitter just implemented a zero tolerance policy towards political advertisements.

Owen said...

Aussie Pundit: "...It is nudge theory writ large...." I think I agree. These media assign inordinate power to the big "influencers" (see also Instagram) where you get a following for your fabulous lifestyle or your giant intellect or whatever --doesn't matter, what matters is how many followers you have-- and so every word out of your mouth is equivalent to a billboard in Times Square or a 60-second spot in the Super Bowl. You have exponential leverage to offer somebody who wants a message put out there. So help me here (not a Twitter adept, obviously): why would the deep-pocketed super-skilled political players not recruit you? Often quite subtly, to put in a good word, or avoid a bad word, for Candidate X or Issue Y? Just because you have a huge following for your country music video or your enviable Instagrammed posed lifestyle, doesn't mean you can't be played or nudged to deliver somebody else's political payload on the back of your useful idiocy.

madAsHell said...

The road to hell is paved with social justice slogans from Jack Dorsey.

If it takes a full page tweet to explain ones action, then you probably are short of kitty litter.

stevew said...

Get woke, go broke. Twitter CEO accelerates platform death spiral. I'm not a twitterer so doesn't affect me at all. His platform, he can do what he sees fit to do with it.

Bay Area Guy said...

UC Berkeley circa 1965 tried to ban political speech on campus, and, well, Mario Savio had a few choice words about the policy......

Ken B said...

Better: break up Twitter. Break them all up, under antitrust. Then it doesn’t matter so much what trickery Jack uses.

Lucien said...

If one were considering opening a Twitter account over the next thirteen months would the prospect of not seeing any political ads be a bug or a feature?

NEO-FIDO said...

BFD!

"I will not sell ad space, but I will allow all these Blue Checked Democrats to spew their version of propaganda for free...and since I control the spigot of information, I'll make sure that the most effective Conservative Voices are banned for...reasons. Excuses."

I don't tweet or give him support or money. He has stepped in it already and not content, he has decided to roll around in it as well.

Aussie Pundit said...

@skylark

"They, they, they, not you, right?"

Touché.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

um, is it because the Dems are going broke,

...and Trump is flush with cash?

Wince said...

No more Jesus arm wrestling ads?

Guess Jesus will have to throw a stone through your window with a note attached.

Zach said...

Ironically, Twitter CEO uses the "wall of text" approach to making his argument.

eric said...

Blogger Nick said...
Typical. Now they get to decide what is "political" advertising along the same standard used for "hate speech."


Here's how it's going to work.

"Hello, we are a Pro-life group and would like to buy ad space on twitter, and pay to promote some of our messaging."

Jack, "I'm sorry, that's political and we won't do political anymore.

"Hello, we are from Planned Parenthood and we would like to buy ad space on twitter and pay to promote some of our messaging."

Jack, "Sure, healthcare is still allowed on twitter!"

"Hello, we're from the NRA and...."

Jack, "Oh hell no!"

"Hello, we are an anti-2nd amendment group who would like to promote gun safety for children."

Jack, "Yes, of course! That's not political at all. It's safety and for the children!"

You get the idea.

Lurker21 said...

2,323 characters. That is one mighty long tweet.

How are they going to decide what is advertising and what is merely communication? They may end up carrying a lot of unpaid ads in the form of politicians' tweets.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

A decision as silly as Twitter itself.

RichAndSceptical said...

I heard someone on CNBC make the same ignorant argument. Free speech means free from government censorship and has nothing to do with if it is a paid ad or not. How quickly they forget McCain-Feingold.

Chris said...

*Cough* BULLSHIT!

I'm Full of Soup said...

So does that mean I will no longer gets "promoted" tweets from big money Green Groups, the NYT, Gun Control groups, etc?

Martin said...

Or, much more plausibly, if nobody can buy ads to convey their message, and Twitter's "moderators" can censor any other attempts at political speech, Twitter management can thereby totally control the medium and pose as heroes for doing so.

Does Jack Dorsey really think we were all born yesterday? I guess so.

Sacto_Dave said...

Only because the Reps are out-fundraising the Dems 10:1.

vanderleun said...

Somebody needs to put some dental floss through Jack's oh-so-edgy nose ring and jerk him back into the bathhouse.

JamesB.BKK said...

Great. Now please forbid promotions of corporate bootlicking of and kowtowing to rabid leftists and leftist governments and parastatal organizations put up by HR girls and irresponsible executives and directors.