As political campaigns start ramping up and all eyes are on the politician, there’s one major difference with this election. Twitter announced it will stop promoting campaigns and ads showing support.
The news broke this past month, but let’s go back about 6 months before that. When Mark Zuckerberg went in front of Congress due to Facebook’s data mining. Google defines data mining as the practice of examining large databases in order to generate new information. In short terms, it means that Facebook has been and is collecting information about you on your phone or laptop and creating targeted ads based on this information.
Essentially, this means that if you were active in certain Facebook groups or searching things on your phone in regards to the 2016 elections, Facebook would create ads targeting what you had been actively searching and in order to make you lean a certain way. For example, if you were searching for Hillary Clinton‘s views on gun control, Facebook would collect that data and make ads either in favor of Clinton or against her. When the general public found out it lead to conspiracies and allegations, such as one claiming Mark Zuckerberg was secretly working with the Russians.
Ultimately this is why Zuckerberg was called to Congress and was questioned for three days on why Facebook was data mining without the consent of its millions of users. The court also questioned if it was ethical, which, ultimately, had Twitter involved due to Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey doing a similar thing. However, Facebook is just passing 2 billion users, while Twitter has 500 million users who are primarily the younger generation of millennials, unlike Facebook. According to the Washington Post, Twitter would start prohibiting ads during the election and primary seasons. They also said they will make sure that campaigns stop promoting false news so young voters do not fall for fake information and are receiving the correct facts.
This was probably in response to Zuckerberg’s call to Congress and to make sure that the facts are straight. With all this said and done, Zuckerberg still refuses to ban ads or even fact check them. One of the main reasons for not banning political ads, according to NBC News, is that, “Political ads allow lesser-known candidates to gain attention and build followings that bigger candidates already have.”
In the same NBC News article, they mentioned that the CEO of Snapchat, Evan Spiegel, will ban some political ads. Which is saying a lot as Snapchat started so you could send you know what to your bae…
Dorsey mentioned that as CEO and founder of a very popular social media app he has the responsibility to do right by the American citizens as well as the citizens of other countries. They deserve the correct information going into midterms and election, and added that he should have done better in the 2016 elections. He stated that he is going to step up and start having Twitter monitor their servers and their ads. Hundreds even millions of people get news and entertainment from Twitter, and Dorsey knew this when he made his announcement.
To recap, Facebook was found guilty of data mining, making ads targeting users, and collecting data to use for the past election. Zuckerberg at the moment doesn’t look like his company is going to ban ads or even fact check them, but at least he’s going to stop mining data. Jack Dorsey is in the midst of checking and editing the process to post and promote political ads in the future for Twitter.
Board, Editorial. “Opinion | Twitter Is Banning Political Ads. If Facebook Won’t, It Must at Least Moderate Them.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 2 Nov. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/twitter-is-banning-political-ads-if-facebook-wont-it-must-at-le ast-moderate-them/2019/11/01/9d3457c0-fc01-11e9-ac8c-8eced29ca6ef_story.html.
“Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Testifies before US Congress: Highlights.” The Economic Times, 11 Apr. 2018, economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/facebook-ceo-mark-zuckerberg-testifies-before-us- congress-highlights/articleshow/63704337.cms.
Feiner, L. “Twitter Bans Political Ads after Facebook Refused to Do So.” CNBC, CNBC, 30 Oct. 2019, www.cnbc.com/2019/10/30/twitter-bans-political-ads-after-facebook-refused-to-do-so.html.