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The birds fall silent

“Twitter to ban all political advertising, raising pressure on Facebook”, reports the Guardian.

Having sent one tweet in my life, I am ill placed to say whether this is much of a loss to the world. Twitter is under no obligation to allow political advertising but Jack Dorsey’s stated reasons for forbidding it sound like a newly-ennobled Victorian peer attempting to efface the memory that he made his money in trade. Mr Dorsey, an advertising billionaire, thinks that the spread of political messages online “should not be compromised by money”.

13 comments to The birds fall silent

  • Paul Marks

    As I (and others) have often pointed out – this is partly the education system and partly the culture. Mr Jack Dorsey is a capitalist – but he is ASHAMED of being a capitalist, he has been taught (both at school and university – and by the culture in which he now moves) that being a capitalist is an evil thing to be.

    Whether it is semi Marxist economics or mystical mumbo-jumbo (Mr Dorsey goes on mystical retreats in the orient), anything (anything at all) is better than boo-hiss laissez faire capitalism.

    Twitter is not unusual – the other companies are the same, Facebook, Google (Youtube), Amazon (book-banning-Amazon) are all staffed by socialists or semi socialists. And even when someone does NOT believe in socialism they find it useful (to get along in the elite culture) to go along with it – Jeff Bezos (owner of Amazon) knows that socialism is nonsense, but he pushes the socialist Washington Post and accepts the censorship policies of Amazon staff.

    The reason that the cultural elite (who dominate the media, ABC – Disney, CBS – Viacom, NBC – Comcast) despise President Donald Trump is that he is NOT ashamed of being a capitalist, he is PROUD of being a capitalist.

    And that, in spite of all his many faults, is why President Donald Trump should be supported against his establishment enemies.

    Jack Dorsey has no problem at all accepting “capitalist money” from people who HATE capitalism (such as the Soros family – via their “charitable foundations” which push Hell-on-Earth), it is only paid ads from people who SUPPORT capitalism that he hates.

    And Mr Dorsey is the norm – not the exception.

  • bobby b

    The Republicans have a massive fundraising lead on Democrats all across the country.

    So of course Jack would decide that it’s unfair to allow people to purchase ads.

    Should the Democrats begin to pull in money comparable to what the Republicans are raising, I would expect Jack to revisit this decision.

  • Nullius in Verba

    I’d say it was more obviously a response to the controversy over the Trump election, and that thing about the army of Russian bots that brainwashed the entire population of America into voting for Trump. The social media giants have received a lot of threats of regulation and calls for them to police political speech recently from angry politicians and pundits. (Not to mention the Dinosaur Media, who are not happy about the loss of their monopoly). They can see that with the furious passions and constant accusations flying back and forth in the Brexit debate (as well as a few others around the world, like Hong Kong and China) that the same is going to happen again. So they’re retreating from the target zone as it’s obviously dangerous to their business to stop there. It’s pre-emptive appeasement.

    Of course, then they’ve got the problem of adjudicating what counts as ‘political’, and fighting all the people who want to talk about politics and who are about to get censored. It should be interesting to watch. It’s a learning process.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Natalie, I think you’ve got something there with the analogy to “a newly-ennobled Victorian peer attempting to efface the memory that he made his money in trade.”

    Aspirations to aristocracy.

    Paul, excellent expansion on the theme.

    bobby, it will be interesting to watch.

    Nullius, I expect you’ve got a part of it nailed too. “Pre-emptive appeasement.”

  • GregWA

    I have never understood why anyone thinks “misinformation”, “deep fakes”, and even “fake news” are something new to political discourse. It’s nothing but politicians and lawyers jabbering at us…what on earth do you expect? It’s gotten cruder certainly. And more brazen–defamation is embraced. Modern technology just gives it to us at 1000 times the fluence (more?) that past generations had to endure. The fluence does make sifting the truth from the half-truths and lies a bit more challenging. But the only reason Twitter, FB, or any other media behemoth’s policies matter is that civics education has been eliminated and the general population has been indoctrinated by the worst sorts. I suspect these two things are related (eliminate civics education, indoctrinate). The problem is not the twitterers or FBers, it’s the educators.

  • Lee Moore

    I’m going to have to disagree with bobbyb.

    This is about a battle between Team A (hurrah!) and Team B (boo!).

    Team A has 15,000 regular troops and 2,000 cavalry. It is supported by 10,000 irregulars.
    Team B has 4,000 regular troops and 400 cavalry. It is supported by 10,000 irregulars.

    It’s about banning irregulars, because they’re the reason why Team B is able to fight at all. Limited to regular forces (aka the MSM) Team B is sunk. So Twitter is just the first to ban irregulars. Facebook will follow – just a bit more subtly. And Google will do its bit, hiding conservative blogs in unlit alleys.

    The left has not got over the loss of its media monopoly. They plan to reinstall it. The open access electronic media are the weak links. They are being closed off. They’re not going to be kept open even if Team A has its own irregulars. Team A’s irregulars are not important. Team B’s are. So it’s best to ban irregulars from the battle altogether.

    PS Though the left is also ready to try to hobble Team B’s regulars. CNN refused to air a Trump Ad recently, because it was “inaccurate.”.

  • Chester Draws

    I think that they will find that banning political advertisements makes their life much worse. I quote their rules “Political Content includes political campaigning and issue advocacy advertising.”

    Do they ban all politicians? Because every tweet Trump, HRC, AOC send is effectively advocating for issues. Is Greta Thunberg an issues advocate? (Yes, but I doubt they’ll play it that way.) Is Matt Ridley? (Yes, and they’ll probably play it that way.)

    Do they ban second-hand advertising? People endorsing a political stand or a particular politician? Will they stop links to political or advocacy sites — say Greenpeace or Guido Fawkes?

    Because if they actually prevent all “political campaigning and issue advocacy advertising” then they are out of business.

    And if they try to find a line between acceptable and unacceptable, they’ll fail.

  • Rob

    Twitter will ban the purchase of political advertising, and will allow groups they are sympathetic with to run free ones.

    They will promise to ‘investigate’ any complaints, which will take four months for each.

  • Rudolph Hucker

    Follow the money?

    If the New Media won’t accept money from political parties to advertise, where will the political parties go to promote themselves and who will get the money?

    Oh … perhaps on the Old Media that’s been rapidly sliding downhill and will be desperately grateful.

  • Won’t this just incentivise fake-news?

  • llamas

    What Rob said.

    – they will ban all paid political and issue advertising – completely impartially.

    – Political content will be posted by a host of private actors, both organized and individual, with lots of it sponsored and sourced by the various parties, but . . .

    – this is no longer paid advertising, but privately- or individually-sourced free content.

    – Twitter is a private enterprise and can choose not to host content for any reason or no reason. And so content which does not comport with the politics of the owners and controllers of Twitter, will not be hosted.

    They are merely following the same model as the old media – if they sell advertising space, they kind-of have to sell to all comers, regardless of message, although even that convention is very frayed, as the given example shows. But in their opinion columns and broadcasts, no such impartiality is required or even expected – the New York Times would never print an opinion piece by Candace Owens, NBC would never broadcast an opinion piece by Rush Limbaugh. Mr Dorsey has effectively said that Twitter is now purely a private opinion source when it comes to political matters – which means, in effect, only his private political opinions will be put forward. And the users will never know – Twitter’s control over content dissemination is so total that unfavoured opinions will simply go down the memory hole and nobody will ever know how it happened or even that it happened at all. It’s just William Randolph Hearst, done digitally.



  • neonsnake

    Interesting, and possibly wise decision, from a business perspective. He’s not (currently) saying that he’s banning political tweets, just ones that are paid for, which prima facie is fair enough. His house, his rules. Good.

    I actually respect this decision far more than Zuckerberg’s prevarication. At least it’s principled.

  • Eric

    This is an entirely unworkable policy. It’s not like you can draw a line and say everything on this side is political advertising and on this side it isn’t. Every ad or article that deals even tangentially with the culture or politics has a political view.