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Twitter bans all paid political ads

USA TWITTER | 30 de octubre de 2019

Undated file photo showing a man photographing the Twitter logo in New York. EFE-EPA/Andrew Gombert/File

San Francisco, Oct 30 (efe-epa).- Twitter on Wednesday announced that it will stop allowing paid political advertisements on its platform, including both ads from candidates' election campaigns and references to politically controversial issues.

In a series of messages on the social network, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced the new measure, which will be implemented starting Nov. 22, a year before the US presidential elections.

"We've made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought," said Dorsey, who went on to detail the reasons the firm had decided to put this policy into place, directing a veiled criticism at his company's main competitor, Facebook.

The ban affects only paid content, that is, ads placed and purchased by political campaigns or individuals who up to now have been able to promote their messages widely for a price, but it does not otherwise limit what users may say on the platform.

Dorsey said that "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."

He went on to say that campaigns should get coverage on the social network via retweets and new followers, meaning that their messages should gain traction among users in that way but not by paying money to reach more people.

Twitter's decision is a radical change from its stance during the 2016 US election campaign, when it encouraged candidates and campaigns to buy ad space on the platform and was used by Russian hackers and trolls to try and influence the election results, a situation that sparked harsh criticism of the social network.

The announcement on Wednesday comes at a time when Twitter's big rival, Facebook, has become mired in renewed controversy over its decision to allow political ads with content that may be demonstrably false.

The latest controversy regarding the company headed by Mark Zuckerberg erupted in early October, when Democratic presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden asked Facebook to withdraw an ad targeting him containing content he considered to be untrue and which was paid for by President Donald Trump's re-election campaign.

Facebook's response, made public in a letter, was that out of respect for freedom of expression, freedom of the press and the democratic process, the firm was not going to check or monitor the political ads or content posted on the platform.

On his Twitter account on Wednesday, Dorsey also made a veiled reference to the controversy, saying that it would not be credible to say: "We're working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad - well...they can say whatever they want!"

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