POLITICS EXPLAINED: What Twitter’s ban on political ads means for your newsfeed

POLITICS EXPLAINED: What Twitter’s ban on political ads means for your newsfeed

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Twitter’s move this week to ban all political ads on its site puts more pressure on other social media giants like Facebook to do the same.

On the topic, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, tweeted, “we believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.” A decision that will cost them millions, according to the company. The new policy has also raised questions about whether other companies will follow suit.

In the wake of that move, Facebook, which makes significantly more on political ads, is being asked if they’ll do the same. For now, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said they won't make any changes.

“Although I’ve considered whether we should not carry these ads in the past and I’ll continue to do so, on balance, so far, I’ve thought we should continue,” Zuckerberg reportedly said on an earnings call. But, the company goes a step further, and won't take down ads with inaccuracies. “I don't think it's right for private companies to censor politicians or the news,” Zuckerberg said.

Both companies backed up their decisions by announcing how much they made from political ads. Twitter execs said this was about principle and not money. Twitter's CFO said the company made less than $3 million during the 2018 midterms from political ads. Facebook also implied to reporters the decision wasn't about money and announced political ads are 0.5% of their yearly revenue.

While they are not the biggest earners for tech companies, political ads are a key part of a campaign's strategy.

"Digital ads are the new front line in the political battle," said University of South Carolina Communications and Journalism Professor Augie Grant.

Grant noted a key difference between political ads online and on-air is the audience. Online ads can target people by interests and demographics, but television ads are made for a wider audience.

For example, according to a new Facebook tool that allows users to search political ads, the President’s campaign for reelection ran the same ad with minor image changes targeted at different demographics.

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