Twitter Will Soon Stop All Political Advertising

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (cropped image via Flickr/cellanrCC License)

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced today that his social media platform will soon stop all political advertising.

Here’s the text of the full thread (which you can see on Twitter here):

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. The internet provides entirely new capabilities, and regulators need to think past the present day to ensure a level playing field.

We’ll share the final policy by 11/15, including a few exceptions (ads in support of voter registration will still be allowed, for instance). We’ll start enforcing our new policy on 11/22 to provide current advertisers a notice period before this change goes into effect.

A final note. 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.

Tennessee: State GOP Uses Gay Couple’s Wedding Photo In Attack Ad

A gay couple in Tennessee were surprised recently to find their wedding photo being used in a political attack ad by the Tennessee Republican Party.

The couple’s ceremony was officiated by the Democratic candidate for State Senate District 14, Gayle Jordan, and the state GOP party used the photo without permission.

The couple, Shane Morgan and his husband Landon, are private citizens and they feel the attack ad is using their wedding illegally.

After years in the Air Force and enduring the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” years, Morgan says wearing his wedding ring has deep personal meaning. “More than words can say,” Morgan said.

After nine years together, the couple married this past December.

The photo was taken from Jordan’s Facebook page where she had posted the pic with the joking caption, “Doing my part to destroy the fabric of American society.”

The attack ad features the picture with the text, “Liberal Gayle Jordan will ‘destroy the fabric of American society.’ Take her word for it.”

According to the Nashville NBC affiliate, the state GOP organization says the comment is very serious and the mailer has nothing to do with the couple.

Morgan and his husband have hired attorney Sunny Eaton of Eastside Legal, who asserts her clients’ privacy has been violated and they have been exploited for political purposes.

Arizona: Campaign Ad Features Lesbian Couple

New campaign ad from Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, who is running for Secretary of State.

Featured in the ad are Melanie Puskar-Blakely and Tonya Blakely recounting how Goddard’s opponent, Sen. Michele Reagan, supported the anti-gay SB 1062 which would have legalized discrimination against the LGBT community in Arizona.

Thankfully, the bill was vetoed by Gov. Brewer.

Very rare – but welcome – to see a lesbian couple head up a campaign ad.