Twitter is banning all paid-for political advertising from its platform, the company’s CEO announced this week, in a move that coincides with a new survey revealing strong support in the UK for tougher regulation of political ads on social media.
Twitter’s new policy, which CEO Jack Dorsey announced in a series of tweets on Wednesday, will come into effect globally on November 22nd and apply to all electioneering ads, as well as ads related to political issues, although it will not apply in some areas, such as ads in support of voter registration.
“We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,” Dorsey said.
“A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money,” he added.
The announcement, which is widely expected to increase pressure on Facebook to follow suit or at least tighten its own approach to political ads, also means that the Twitter ban will come into force in time for a snap general election in the UK on December 12th.
It also prompted the Institute of Practitioners in Advertisers, a UK industry body, to urge all online platforms to commit to a publicly available political ad register or to consider following Twitter’s lead.
Paul Bainsfair, director general of the IPA, said: “Politics relies on the public square – on open, collective debate. We, however, believe micro-targeted political ads circumvent this.
“While we support regulation, we do not foresee this happening any time soon, if at all. In its absence, platforms need to step up and consider their responsibilities.
“At the very least, but immediately, platforms should commit their support, money and resources to a publicly available, platform-neutral, machine-readable register of all political ads and ad data online. If they cannot provide this, they should consider following Twitter’s lead.”
Meanwhile, new research from YouGov and advertising agency Grey London has found that almost two-thirds (63%) of adults in the UK trust social media less than they did two years ago, even though a quarter (25%) are using social media more.
Significantly, 61% of those surveyed believe social media should be regulated in the same way as traditional media, while 59% strongly agree that political advertising should be regulated on social media during elections and referenda.
“If the public remains unsure about regulation on social media, then how can trust ever by restored?” asked Anna Panczyk, chief executive of Grey London. “It’s vital that people understand they are protected when online from the harm of false advertising and disinformation.”
Sourced from Twitter, IPA, Grey London, YouGov; additional content by WARC staff