06:39 GMT +322 November 2019
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    FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2018, file photo, the logo for Twitter is displayed above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

    Twitter’s Ban on Political Ads Can’t Address Corporate Money’s Influence on Policy

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    In a statement Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that the social media company would no longer allow any political advertisements on its platform, claiming that “political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

    However, the issue isn’t about whether or not Twitter will allow political ads, technologist Chris Garaffa told Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary Thursday. Rather, it’s about whether tech giants like Facebook and Twitter should be able to hold power over what ads are running and “who can have a voice” in the first place. 

    “This whole conversation is being incorrectly framed. It’s about, ‘Oh, Facebook is allowing any ad to run,’ supposedly. ‘Twitter is not going to allow any political ads, including issue ads.’ I think the conversation we need to be having instead is: ‘Why are we letting these companies decide what ads are running, and ultimately what is the truth and who can have a voice?’ If a company has millions of dollars to spend on Twitter advertising, then they can get an ad out that still influences general societal thought without making it explicitly a political ad,” Garaffa told hosts Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon.

    “So, the oil industry, for example, Exxon, can still buy ads promoting fossil fuels, but an anti-fossil fuel, a green organization could not actually buy an ad promoting, let’s say, a ballot measure or a candidate that is seeking to end or curb the use of fossil fuels … These are companies that are interested in their bottom line. We need to reframe the conversation,” Garaffa explained.

    Minutes after Twitter’s announcement Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended his platform’s stance to supposedly include all ads. 

    “Should we block political ads with false statements?" the 34-year-old billionaire said, CBS News reported.  "Should we block all political ads? Google, YouTube and most internet platforms run these same ads, most cable networks run these same ads, and of course national broadcasters are required by law to run them by FCC [Federal Communications Commissions] regulations. I think there are good reasons for this.”

    However, Facebook may not be entirely telling the truth about its ad policies, according to Garaffa.

    “If Facebook were to do this [ban political ads], that would be a larger statement. Supposedly, anyone can post any ad they want, but I think we’ve talked about how that’s actually not true. We became aware earlier this week of a situation where Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, rejected an ad for PrEP. PrEP is a drug that can prevent HIV transmission, so it’s a really important drug. Instagram said that the ad was too political and prevented on organization - Apicha Community Health Center - which is based in New York … from running an ad about it,” Garaffa explained.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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