Twitter announced two weeks ago that it would ban all Political ads from its platform. Now, the Political Advertisement Ban on Twitter has come into effect and its rules are simple. The simple rule is that the company has banned ads that promote political content, like candidates, governments, officials or parties. The company has also banned political non-profit groups from promoting their content.
The main idea behind the political Advertisement Ban is that political message shouldn’t be bought; it should be earned. It’s hard to argue with such a policy. These new rules apply to any kind of ads. However, Facebook disagrees with this policy because it has allowed political ads to run from its platform.
Twitter doesn’t have a political advertisement ban on content. The company has only banned the paid promotion of that content. Everyone and anyone can discuss political topics and work for their cause. However, no one can pay more to get more people to see their message.
Twitter mentioned certain things in its rules and made clear what it means by political content. “According to us, political content is content that refers to a political party, referendum, election, legislation, directive, regulation, judicial outcome or elected government officials. Therefore, we will ban ads that refer to political content, like solicitations of financial support, appeal for votes, and advocacy for or against the above-mentioned political content types.”
Thus, the policy of Twitter is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a good thing that the company has defined the boundaries of political content, otherwise, things would have become complicated.
A blanket ban on politically motivated organizations will clear things further. The company has banned political action committees (PACs) and their cousins SuperPACs, from any kind of advertising. This makes sense because they produce content to influence the whole political process. There is also a ban on political non-profit organizations. However, there are exemptions, both for the cause-based content and news organizations that cover political issues.
The exemption of news organizations is a natural one. Although many news organizations indeed have a specific bias or agenda, it still doesn’t compare to donating millions of dollars to the candidates. However, there are some restrictions here. Firstly, news organizations should have at least 200,000 monthly visitors. Moreover, the news coverage shouldn’t be on a single issue, but a variety of issues.
However, the cause-based exemption is a tricky one. Twitter’s policy states that it will allow every advertisement that raises awareness or calls people to take action related to civic engagement, social equity or economic growth. However, Twitter imposes some restrictions here. There will be no political advertisement ban if the ads are targeted at a state, region or province level. Moreover, the owners can’t target the ads towards interested parties.
However, the definition is still unsatisfactory, for example, what’s the real meaning of “social equity” or “civic engagement?” However, Twitter may have avoided going into details, to make it more accommodating. The company wants the promotion of content, like disaster relief work or voter registration movements. Still, many people can get advantage of this policy on Twitter.
I think that there should be additional guidance regarding the cause-based content rules. The policy lead at Twitter, Vijaya Gadde also said that the company will try to be transparent with these issues. Moreover, she also said that they will make clear changes to their rules.
“Political advertisement ban is new territory for us,” she tweeted, “Like every other policy, it will evolve with time. We will listen to your feedback and make the right decisions.”
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