We’ve all read that soon, Twitter will be banning all political advertisements on their platform. That includes both candidate advocacy ads as well as issue advocacy advertisements. Some in the media believe this is a swipe at Facebook, whose CEO, in front of Congress, stated that Facebook does not plan to perform fact checking on any political ads. Is Twitter’s decision a good one? Will it do anything to solve the complaints concerning false or misleading information that may be contained in the advertisement?
First of all, how many people actually stop and read ads – any ads on either Twitter or Facebook? I’m sure there are some, or else no company or political candidate/party would waste their money. I wonder though, what percent of users that tends to be? Of course, partisans of any political party are going to believe what their side tends to say while dismissing their opponents as fake and false. Who’s to really tell? We can’t depend on the media anymore as most, if not all of them (at least in the US) are highly partisan and no one, or very few, believe anything they read or hear from the media. If the call is to fact check political and issue advocacy advertisements, why not do the same with stories posted on any platform by the media itself?
If we are not smart enough, at least in Twitter’s view, to discern false information in political advertising, are we smart enough to determine fake news stories posted as well? I would say, no. That would mean no more political stories from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, or even someone’s local newspaper, would need to be either prevented from being posted or fact checked by a non-partisan group. the easiest? According to Jack Dorsey, would be to not allow any politically based reporting at all.
I personally think we can all determine on our own what is real and what appears to be fake whether it’s an advertisement of a story. There’s always going to be some that will believe whatever their fed as truth, but we can see through various polls over time, that people are more skeptical than ever of media, as well as politicians. In the highly partisan environment we live in today, that’s no necessarily bad – except for the media and politicians.
I’m unsure if Twitters’ new policy has been well thought out. Of course those running for national office will have other methods to get their message out, but what about local politicians, who don’t have the millions to spend on radio or television and use platforms like Twitter and Facebook to their their message out in their city, county, or even state? It may be crippling for these running for office that have a very direct effect on their local communities.
I’m actually glad that Mark Zuckerberg told Congress that Facebook have no plans to fact check political ads of any kind. It makes me believe that they have more confidence in their users ability to discern fact from fiction than our own government does. Twitter, on the other hand, seem to be virtue signaling and in doing so, will eventually cause more harm to their platform than is readily apparent today.