Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently announced that the social media platform – with over 300 million users – will no longer allow advertisers to publish any politically related advertisements. It is still unclear exactly which content will fall under the umbrella of politics, but the ban will likely include advertisements endorsing candidates and specific political issues.
This decision followed Facebook’s announcement that it has no responsibility to moderate advertisements, going as far as allowing advertisements, even if blatantly false, to run on Facebook.
Of course, following the 2016 election, Facebook got caught up in the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica and claims of Russian involvement in the U.S. election. Since then, media and activists have been pressuring Mark Zuckerberg, among other social media business leaders, to take a stance on how to moderate so-called “fake news” in order to ensure credibility in reporting and advertising.
Understandably, this is a complicated problem to resolve. Interestingly, though, Facebook and Twitter have taken two wildly different stances on the matter. Facebook, in claiming free speech, has determined that establishing credibility and fact checking advertisements would prove to be an exceptionally difficult task. Twitter, on the other hand, just decided to ban them outright; if they can’t draw clear lines, it’s best not to have these advertisements at all. Both stances are relatively understandable – as the options in between can be very tricky to execute.
It will be interesting to see how Facebook and Twitter – which provide a significant amount of news to the American electorate – will impact elections and political information moving forward in light of these decisions.