After Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced a ban on all political advertisements, albeit with “a few exceptions” like voter registration, on its platform, Google and Facebook are allegedly considering incorporation of new rules to curb micro-targeted political ads.
A recent media report said that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is considering to limit the ability of electoral candidates to instigate narrow group of voters. The media speculation comes in the wake of Europe’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager praising Twitter, on Thursday (November 7), for banning political advertising but criticising Facebook for its “de facto manipulation of who you’re going to vote for”.
Vestager said, as quoted by Reuters, “Democracy should take place in the open – where a political ad can be fact-checked, contradicted and different opinions can be offered. But if it’s only in your feed, between you and Facebook, and their microtargeting of who you are, that’s not democracy anymore.”
In October 2019, hundreds of Facebook employees also wrote to Zuckerberg demanding a ban. “Currently we restrict targeting for housing and education and credit verticals due to a history of discrimination. We should extend similar restrictions to political advertising,” the letter said.
Rising Demand For Ban On Political Ads On Social Media Platforms
Facebook has been facing criticism from various quarters to stop carrying ads that steer elections and spread false information. The most prominent criticism came from the US Democratic presidential candidates for the 2020 election on the social media platform’s decision to not fact-check ads run by politicians. Democrats said that the social media giant was widely spreading foreign-funded misinformation. However, Facebook has been steadfastly refusing to comply.
Twitter’s ban has received appreciation all over the world. However, some said even though it is an important step, it is not enough. Vestager said, “Twitter’s statement is still not the end of the story and there are other issues like bots and so on, but it’s an important step forward because the company states its values.”
While Twitter officially announced that it would be banning political ads, Facebook has not made any official announcement yet. However, the pressure is surely building in for Facebook and Google.