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Twitter Bans Political Ads Amid Growing Pressure To Stop Fake News, Misinformation

Twitter Bans Political Ads Amid Growing Pressure To Stop Fake News, Misinformation

CEO Dorsey said political message reach should be earned not bought

Twitter’s announcement is being called a welcome change in light of political ads controversy in the US

In India, Twitter had committed to vetting political advertisers ahead of elections

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has announced a ban on all political advertisements, albeit with “a few exceptions” like voter registration, on its platform from next month. The announcement, which came on Wednesday, has won appreciation from across the world.

“We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,” Dorsey tweeted. The company will share the final policy by November 15, and will start enforcing that policy on November 22, he added.

Talking about the challenges posed by internet political ads to civic discourse which include “optimisation of messaging and micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes”, Dorsey tweeted that the effort should be to get to the root of the issue, rather than trying to fight the misinformation through sophisticated technology.

“All at increasing velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale. The company needs to focus our efforts on the root problems, without the additional burden and complexity taking money brings.”

India’s Social Media Regulations Before Elections

While Twitter is banning political ads now, it had committed to taking a more stringent view of political advertisers in India ahead of the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year.

Ahead of Indian general elections this year, a voluntary code of ethics was developed by the internet and mobile association of India (IAMAI) and was submitted by the Election Commission of India.

This was followed by Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube agreeing to cooperate with the Election Commission of India and stating that only pre-authorised Indian advertisers would be allowed to run political ads on their platform. Participants also agreed to take action on content reported by the electoral nodal officers.

Mounting Pressure On Social Media Platforms

Twitter’s decision to ban most political ads comes at a time when Facebook has been facing criticism from various quarters, including from the US Democratic presidential candidates for the 2020 election, on its decision to not fact-check ads run by politicians.

Twitter and Facebook have been under the scanner for political ads that spread false information in an effort to influence elections.

Many experts globally have been asking for a ban on all political ads on social media platforms. Twitter, in fact, blocked state-controlled media outlets from advertising on its social network in August this year.