Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are applauding Twitter’s decision to ban political ads from its platform starting in November, seeing it as a welcome contrast to Facebook’s hands-off approach to misleading ads.
In a statement, Bill Russo, deputy communications director for the Biden campaign, said, “We appreciate that Twitter recognizes that they should not permit disproven smears, like those from the Trump campaign, to appear in advertisements on their platform.”
Russo continued, “It would be unfortunate to suggest that the only option available to social media companies to do so is the full withdrawal of political advertising, but when faced with a choice between ad dollars and the integrity of our democracy, it is encouraging that, for once, revenue did not win out.”
Earlier this month, Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign sent letters to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube demanding that they ban misleading political ads from their platforms. Biden had become the subject of ads placed by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign making baseless claims regarding the Biden family’s relationship with the Ukrainian government. Initially, all three companies rejected the idea of banning false political ads. Now, Twitter is banning all of them, true or false.
The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee — which has spent much of Trump’s presidency investigating Russia’s use of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to interfere in the US’s elections — suggested that Dorsey’s decision was encouraging. “Going forward, and again, I hope that Zuckerberg and others may end up taking some guidance from what Dorsey and Twitter has done,” Warner told NBC News.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who pressed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a hearing last week over the company’s unwillingness to fact-check ads placed by politicians, called the move “a good call.”
“Technology — and social media especially — has a powerful responsibility in preserving the integrity of our elections,” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “Not allowing for paid disinformation is one of the most basic, ethical decisions a company can make.”
Twitter’s announcement came only a few hours before Facebook was scheduled to have its quarterly earnings call with investors. Throughout the call, Zuckerberg did not back down from his company’s policy, saying “I don’t think it’s right for private companies to censor politicians or the news. Ads can be an important part of voice, especially for candidates and advocacy groups the media might not otherwise cover. It’s hard to find where to draw the line.”