- Twitter announced Wednesday it will ban political advertising from its platform.
- The move unleashed newfound pressure on Facebook and other social media giants to follow suit.
- That could be particularly significant for the Trump campaign, which has long dominated social media platforms in its efforts to reach voters.
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Twitter announced Wednesday it would ban political advertising from its platform, altering the playing field for 2020 campaigns and unleashing newfound pressure on Facebook and other social media giants to follow suit.
The shift could be particularly significant for the Trump campaign, which has long dominated social media platforms in its efforts to reach voters.
Facebook has said it would not take the same actions as Twitter, but that could change. Axios reported Saturday that top Republicans have become increasingly concerned about the possibility that the largest social media site could fold to pressure to oust political advertisements.
The Trump campaign spent $44 million on Facebook advertisements between June and November 2016, according to an internal company report reviewed by Bloomberg. Its advertisements were far more effective than other campaigns at raking in donations and new supporters, the report found.
Those efforts have expanded in the president’s re-election campaign, especially as an impeachment inquiry unfolds less than a year before voters head to the ballot box. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the inquiry in late September, the Trump campaign tripled its weekly buy of Facebook advertisements.
But the campaign has also invested heavily in efforts to reach “millions of voters away from any third-party platforms like Facebook,” communications director Tim Murtaugh told Business Insider in a statement.
“We’ve always known that President Trump was too successful online and that Democrats would one day seek to wipe him off the Internet,” he added. “Democrats demanding internet platforms shut down political advertising will guarantee Trump’s victory in 2020. They’re idiots.”
Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey announced Wednesday that political advertisements would be banned from the platform, saying they had contributed to the viral spread of disinformation and presented challenges to the democratic process.
“While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions,” Dorsey wrote.
The move only added to growing criticism of Facebook from both the public and internally. In an open letter to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, hundreds of employees expressed concerns that politicians could post false claims on the site.
In an earnings call Wednesday, Zuckerberg defended his position and said that “political speech is important.”
“This is complex stuff,” he said. “Anyone who says the answer is simple hasn’t thought about the nuances and downstream challenges. I don’t think anyone can say that we are not doing what we believe or we haven’t thought hard about these issues.”