Three Cheers for Twitter

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, tweeted the following message earlier today:

Jack then went on to offer several reasons for the decision, which you can read by clicking on the Twitter message above and following the thread.

Even though I am a Twitter stockholder, and such a decision will hurt the company’s profit in the short-run and stock price (as of this writing, the stock is down 2% in after-hours trading), I applaud the decision.

First, political advertising represents a small portion of Twitter’s overall advertising, people familiar with the situation said. Twitter generated $2.11 billion of revenue from advertising in the first nine months of this year, and less than $3 million from political ads during the 2018 midterms, according to Ned Segal, Twitter’s Chief Financial Officer.

Second, Segal noted that this decision was based on principle, not money. It can’t be easy sacrificing profits in the name of doing what you believe is the right thing, particularly when you know that some people will criticize you for such a decision.

Third, given the foreign interference in our last election, much of it the result of posting misleading ads on social media platforms, it will be nice if some, if not all, of that foreign influence, has no outlet for its propaganda.

Such a decision runs counter to Facebook’s announcement that it would continue to feature political ads. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, stated “Ads can be an important part of voice—especially for candidates and advocacy groups the media might not otherwise cover so they can get their message into debate. It’s hard to define where to draw the line.”

Twitter’s policy will be enforced worldwide starting Nov. 22, Mr. Dorsey said. Twitter also said it will allow some exceptions, such as ads in support of voter registration.

I wish the company the best, and while time will tell if such a ban was effective, even if the stock price drops more, sometimes you have to do what you think is right.

*image from Search Engine Journal

20 thoughts on “Three Cheers for Twitter

  1. Amen. Often, doing the right thing ain’t as easy or convenient as other options…but its the right thing. The right thing ain’t no big mystery in many cases. It just requires a little bit of courage and integrity sometimes, and that’s what we should demand of our leaders, ourselves, and each other. Do the right thing.

  2. Am I missing something? I don’t recall seeing any political ads on Twitter and apparently, if I did, I ignored them. The political challenge for Twitter is that “truth” is almost impossible to identify in these days as we all have our own “truth”. How does this decision help anything? Sincerely wanting to know.

    1. You are right, Ray, that such ads were not a big part of Twitter (I can’t recall seeing any either, but I am not on their very often). But as to why they made such a decision, Jack Dorsey offers severall reasons in his follow-up tweets, but here is one of them that perhaps resonates the most with me:
      “Internet political ads present entirely new challenges to civic discourse: machine learning-based optimization of messaging and micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes. All at increasing velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale.”

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