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Local reaction to Twitter political ad ban

Emily Burkhard
Updated: October 31, 2019 07:00 PM
Created: October 31, 2019 06:18 PM

ALBANY - Reaction to Twitter banning political ads continued on Thursday.

On Wednesday, CEO Jack Dorsey said he believes the "reach" a political message gets should be earned, not bought.

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Dorsey said initially they considered banning ads from candidates only, but ultimately decided to make the policy much more broad.

So what ads will this ban apply to and when will it take effect?

Beginning on November 22, Twitter will be banning ads that refer to an election or political candidate specifically as well as ads that advocate for or against national legislative issues, such as climate change, healthcare, immigration, national security and taxes.

Executive Director of New York Public Interest Research Group Blair Horner believes anytime a policy regarding the first amendment comes up, he expects things to get a little dicey.

"On the one hand, you don't want to see lies out there which mislead the public get them feeling a certain way about an issue or a candidate. On the other hand, you don't want to infringe on people's free speech rights to express themselves," Horner said.

Users are still able to tweet about political issues, but they won't be able to pay to promote those messages anymore.

Dorsey said he believes this move will also help stop the spread of misinformation.

He finished his thread writing, "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."

Many Twitter users believe the new policy takes direct aim at Facebook, whose CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in response, "I don't think it's right for private companies to censor politicians and the news."

Horner believes Twitter's ban could force Facebook's hand.

"This is an evolving problem there needs to be various solutions. Twitter is taking a step to try to figure out how they can deal with it," Horner said. "We will see what Facebook does next."

NewsChannel 13 reached out to several Albany-based lobbying groups to get their take on the ban, no one was available on Thursday.

Last year, Twitter's political ads brought in around $3 million compared to $2.6 billion in overall ad revenue.

Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates on this story.


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