Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of @Twitter, and founder and CEO of Square, made some interesting Tweets today to announce Twitter’s new policy that bans all political advertising from the platform.
We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought. Why? A few reasons…?
— jack ??? (@jack) October 30, 2019
Dorsey goes on to explain his and Twitter’s reasoning in a Tweet thread. In so doing, Dorsey slams Facebook hard.
For instance, it‘s not credible for us to say: “We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well…they can say whatever they want! ?”
— jack ??? (@jack) October 30, 2019
The news was well-received by Muslim Advocates Special Counsel for Anti-Muslim Bigotry, Madihha Ahussain:
“We thank Jack Dorsey for acknowledging the serious problem of political misinformation and for not-so-subtly rebuking Facebook’s reckless political ad policy. Facebook’s decision to accept money for political ads that spread falsehoods puts American Muslims, immigrants and other vulnerable communities in danger. However, as is true for all new policies, we will need to know more about how this will actually be implemented, how Twitter defines political advertising and what some of the harmful consequences of this policy could mean for vulnerable communities. It’s also important to note that dangerous hate content continues to thrive elsewhere on both Twitter and Facebook. Both companies need to take meaningful action to stamp it out before more people are needlessly placed in harm’s way.”
In other words, political ads might be gone from Twitter but the unpaid content coursing through the platform’s digital veins is chock full of venomous hate.
Brad Parscale, egomaniac and manager of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, said the ban was “Yet another attempt to silence conservatives since Twitter knows President Trump has the most sophisticated online program ever known.”
Wrong. If Dorsey enforced Twitter’s stated policies on hate speech, @RealDonaldTrump’s account would have been banned years ago.
Rich Mark, Poor Mark
Earlier this month, Mark Zuckerberg went before an audience of students in Washington DC to defend the firm’s decision not to ban political adverts that contain falsehoods.
He said he had considered barring all political ads on his platforms but he believed the move would favor incumbent politicians and whoever the media chose to cover.
The company should “err on the side of greater expression”, he argued.
He missed a word there. It’s greater “paid” expression. Mark seems to think that freedom of speech means freedom to advertise.
Of course, Mark wraps himself in layers of drama, as rich tech bros are apt to do. Drama clouds one’s judgment.
Mark was recently caught on tape saying this about Twitter: “Our investment in safety is bigger than the whole revenue of their company.”
That sounds false to me, but let’s say it’s real and that Mark isn’t just spouting tech broisms. What does Facebook’s investment in “safety” have to do with safeguarding Facebook users from ads that lie?
Aaron Sorkin Pokes Mark in the Side, Again
Hollywood director and maker of The Social Network, a film about the formation of Facebook, wrote an open letter to Mark, which was published in The New York Times early this morning.
I admire your deep belief in free speech. I get a lot of use out of the First Amendment. Most important, it’s a bedrock of our democracy and it needs to be kept strong.
But this can’t possibly be the outcome you and I want, to have crazy lies pumped into the water supply that corrupt the most important decisions we make together. Lies that have a very real and incredibly dangerous effect on our elections and our lives and our children’s lives.
Sorkin’s rhetorical flourishes mask the raw fact that paid advertising on Facebook makes Mark and the people near him R-I-C-H.
Sorkin is talking about philosophy. Mark is talking about his unfettered right to earn. Mark has established himself as the Harvard dropout who put his hoodie down. Now, he’s the Valley’s new conservative businessman.