In the wake of Twitter’s decision to ban political adds on its platform, Facebook is facing increasing pressure over its policy that allows politicians to place ads that stretch the truth on its platform. The initial news that Twitter was changing its policy came in several tweets. The rule will disallow re-tweets that are paid for that promote an original tweet. The reasoning was spelled out by CEO Jack Dorsey who wrote that following a politician is a choice but receiving a retweet from a paid add is not and will no longer be tolerated on the Twitter platform.
Pressure on Facebook to Change
There appears to be political pressure on Facebook to make a change. Facebook has experienced pressure in many political areas in the wake of the Russian interference in the 2016 elections. While Facebook has taken a lot of criticism that they still allow paid political adds on the platform it also appears that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is not backing down. The issue does not affect Twitter in the way it could Facebook as political adds made up only 3-million in revenue in 2018, compared to a total of 3-billion in revenue for the year.
Attacks from Warren and Cortez
To show that Facebook continues to allow adds that lie, Senator Elizabeth Warren placed an add on Facebook that falsely claims that CEO Zuckerberg had endorsed President Donald Trump. This was followed by testimony that Zuckerberg had to admit a House hearing that he would probably let her run ads saying Republicans supported the Green New Deal.
Facebook is trying to avoid becoming the ad police that determines what kind of add falls into the category of false political advertising and what does not. Taking down a political ad created two problems for Facebook. It would create a precedent that Facebook is responsible for policing political ads on its platform. Removing an add would have a portion of the political population that would cry foul. Facebook and other social media companies are under siege especially from Republicans that their algorithms contain anti-conservative bias. The major problem for Facebook is that they do not want to define a political add. They would rather have regulators determine the definition of a political add.
Twitter is Not Out of the Woods
The issue is that politicians want their message to get out but want to define lying from the other side. Senator Warren lashed out at Twitter saying its new add policy is blocking organizations that are fighting climate change from running ads. Warren wants to run ads that are helpful to her cause but wants to add from conservatives that she perceives as outright lies to be blocked. This has put Twitter along with other social media companies in a difficult bind. Without any clear legislation that points to what can be released on social media, this issue will clearly remain front and center ahead of the 2020 elections.