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Spotify will ‘pause’ political ads in early 2020

The platform says it does not have the capability to ‘responsibly validate’ ad content

Spotify Stock Alex Castro / The Verge

As first reported by AdAge, Spotify said Friday it will “pause” political advertising early in 2020 on its ad-supported tier and its original and exclusive podcasts, saying it doesn’t have the resources to properly vet such ads.

“At this point in time, we do not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our processes, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content,” the company said in a statement to The Verge. “We will reassess this decision as we continue to evolve our capabilities.”

Spotify does not offer ads on its platform outside the US. The company would not tell AdAge how much revenue its political ads generate, but Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and the RNC have run ads on Spotify in the past.

Spotify joins other tech companies grappling with how to handle political advertising in the run-up to the 2020 election. In November, Twitter put into effect its political advertising ban, which forbids paid content referring to candidates, political parties, legislation, regulation, or ballot measures. Ads from political action committees and 501(c)(4) organizations also are prohibited on Twitter, but the platform allows “cause-based advertising” in some circumstances.

Google’s restrictions on political advertising will go into effect worldwide on January 6th. Its rules limit advertisers from targeting people based on public voter records or political affiliation, but Google will still allow geo-targeted political ads, and political ads targeted to demographics like age and gender. Google’s new rules are likely to have a significant impact on political ads; since May 31st, 2018, the company has run more than $155 million in political ads in the US (the leading spender as of this writing is former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2020 campaign).

Twitter’s decision to ban political ads came in response to Facebook’s announcement that it would not fact-check statements in political ads on its platform.