Those voices are discussing Twitter’s decision to ban political advertising, the 21st century equivalent of a lawn sign in your yard that’s somehow co-opted by a neo-nazi.
Politicians will still be allowed to tweet, and their messages will still be allowed to spread organically, but they won’t be allowed to pay to have their posts metastasize across the platform. The cancer is going to have to figure out how to spread from the liver to the gallbladder on its own.
Like Black Friday, the policy will go live sometime near the end of November, and just like that 70” Visio doorbuster you picked up at Walmart, it’s not exactly perfect or crystal clear. Some topics that aren’t inherently political, like climate change, are still set to be included in the ban, while other subjects remain relatively unclear, like whether Jimmy Buffet fans are created by living under chemtrails.
Now, it’s very easy to take a cynical view of Twitter’s move — for one, most of their money does not come from political advertising. I’ve always assumed they’re in business because they capture and store the kinetic energy produced by celebrities and journalists jerking each other off and sell it back to utility companies at a profit.
But it’s a significant step in the right direction for at least attempting to control micro targeted, A-B tested, inflammatory and outright untrue political advertising spreading across the internet.
And it’s certainly in contrast to Facebook, who, over the past week, has vehemently defended its right to allow politicians to pay Facebook for the privelige of spreading lies and misinformation across its broad network of baby boomers, oblivious suburbanites, and unpopular millennials.
That’s not to say Facebook doesn’t have any community standards — on the contrary, they have set the standard for what a community should not look like. And earlier this week, they did take action to weed harmful content out of its platform — by banning the use of sexually suggestive emojis, like the peach, the eggplant, or the gerbil that keeps popping up in Richard Gere’s Instagram story.
Digital advertising is how Facebook makes 85% of its money. And these deceptive, real-looking advertisements are able to run alongside the same types of deceptive, real-looking quote-unquote news articles that my family and yours are reading and sharing on an everyday basis. The lies pay for the lies.
And even though I’m not a politician — in fact, I’m barely a comedian — I still don’t think it’s right that taking money to spread lies about guns is acceptable, but taking money to spread lies about the cleaning power of Tide is not.
Fortunately, there are politicians who want to address these ads, but in order for the ads to be addressed, they need to be elected, but before they can be elected, they can be targeted by the ads, that can very well say they don’t want to address these ads.