Flying directly in the face of what competitors like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are doing, Twitter has officially banned all political ads on its platform. They have tried to keep the rules as simple and unambiguous as possible in order to avoid any possible confusion.
According to the company, the idea behind this policy is to encourage any political candidate or party to have to “earn” the reach of their political message, and that it can’t be “bought.” The rules state that no political content as they define it may be promoted. This includes content from candidates, parties, governments or officials, PACs and certain political non-profit groups.
An important distinction to make here is that they aren’t banning political content, but only the paid promotion of such content. They still fly the flag of free speech (which Facebook have said this ban is curbing), which means any and every topic is still fair game when it comes to content on the platform.
When Twitter leadership mentioned this change several weeks ago, many had questions around what they would define as “political.” Twitter explains that “political content” in this new policy refers to “content that references a candidate, political party, elected or appointed government official, election, referendum, ballot measure, legislation, regulation, directive, or judicial outcome.”
This is one of the only times we have seen a social media company make business decisions that would negatively affect their bottom line in order to side step any controversy when it comes to the current toxic political environment. Whether or not Twitter will change their policies in one direction or the other still remains to be seen, and will surely be driven by feedback of their active users.
There are still some questions that needs answering, including what would happen to political content that can be seen as “positive” – that being content like encouraging citizens to vote, activism drives, etc.