Twitter has issued its official statement on banning political ads. The banning had been done 2 weeks ago, but the rules released now, which are straight to the point. Their message is, “Political message reach should be earned, not bought.”
There would be few exemptions, but overall this is a sturdy move aimed at uncluttering twitter from political chaos that results amid heavy and violent words every political season. Those exempted would include the journalism sector, and news organizations can still post non-political content.
Those factions that have been banned from promoting their political agenda include candidates, parties, governments, and the officials and Political Action Committees, also known as PACs. Few non-profit political groups are also banned from promoting paid political content.
Twitter’s aim, according to its officials, is to put an end to paid political posts, and it DOES NOT intend to ban political content altogether. Putting it easily, Twitter wants to obstruct users from indulging in paid promotion. The new company policy would, from now on, be effective globally and to all types of advertisements.
Twitter maintains that every user has a right to pursue their cause like they used to do before. They can speak their minds on political stuff as well. The new development only means that twitter restricts the prevalence of paid promoting political content, also known as political ads.
That being said, political posts that direct to some political entity like candidate and political party or legislation which involves appeal for voting and advocating or demanding financial support are the ones that are to be discouraged.
Some non-profit organizations spend a lot of money and try to influence the political process. Twitter plans to nab such groups and organizations too. This may be a cause of stir.
Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey had also stated previously that twitter would disallow all political advertising. It should also be put forward, that this step has been a challenge to implement and can have disastrous implications also. The CEO fears this initiative being attacked mercilessly.
A ban on political ads always has this attached effect of creating controversies. This can, however, be lessened with the use of straight and easy to comprehend rules, on which Twitter has relied this time.
According to the official Twitter political ads ban policy: “We define political content as content that references a candidate, political party, elected or appointed government official, election, referendum, ballot measure, legislation, regulation, directive, or judicial outcome. Ads that contain references to political content, including appeals for votes, solicitations of financial support, and advocacy for or against any of the above-listed types of political content.”
Those exempted were the ones most deserving of this exemption since so many news organizations have some inclination towards one political ideology or another. That means a strong social media platform like Twitter cannot just go about banning all of the political content.
But to qualify for an exemption, having a pool of 200,000 unique visitors is a prerequisite for a news agency. Add to this the additional pointer of having a Twitter presence that is not based on a single issue. Again, ads that are “cause based” are also exempted.
Twitter, while going one step forward and allowing cause-based ads, tried to put a vague statement of how it should sound: “Ads that educate, raise awareness, and/or call for people to take action in connection with civic engagement, economic growth, environmental stewardship, or social equity causes.”
Cause-based ads, as categorized by Twitter, are those that raise concerns on social equity and the environment and those that are meant to educate. Although a definition has been put forward, this exemption may also create consternation, since the terms are not conceptually sound.
Vijaya Gadde, the legal, policy, and trust and safety lead at Twitter reached out to reporters to state: “This is entirely new terrain. We’re also prepared that we’re going to make some mistakes, and we’re going to have to learn and improve this policy over time.”
Undoubtedly, this policy is yet to see its own set of mixed response, welcoming and tribulations. Only time shall tell how this bold step is received among Twitter users. Importantly, it is certain to evolve and become more refined through feedbacks and additional touch-ups.