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Twitter bans all political advertisements

BY RACHEL LERMAN AND BARBARA ORTUTAY AP Technology Writers

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter is banning all political advertising from its service, saying social media companies give advertisers an unfair advantage in proliferating highly targeted, misleading messages.

Facebook has taken fire since it disclosed earlier in October that it will not fact-check ads by politicians or their campaigns, which could allow them to lie freely. CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress last week that politicians have the right to free speech on Facebook. 

The issue suddenly arose in September when Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, refused to remove a misleading video ad from President Donald Trump's campaign that targeted former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential candidate.

In response, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another presidential hopeful, ran an ad on Facebook taking aim at its CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The ad falsely claimed that Zuckerberg endorsed President Donald Trump for re-election, acknowledging the deliberate falsehood as necessary to make a point.

Critics have called on Facebook to ban all political ads. This includes CNN chief Jeff Zucker, who recently called the policy of allowing lies ludicrous and advised the social media giant to sit out the 2020 election until it can figure out something better.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted the change Wednesday , saying the company is recognizing that advertising on social media offers an unfair level of targeting compared to other mediums.

The majority of money spent on political advertising in the U.S. goes to television ads.

Twitter's policy will start on November 22.

President Donald Trump' campaign released the following statement on Twitter's decision to ban political ads:

“Twitter just walked away from hundreds of millions of dollars of potential revenue, a very dumb decision for their stockholders. Will Twitter also be stopping ads from biased liberal media outlets who will now run unchecked as they buy obvious political content meant to attack Republicans? This is yet another attempt to silence conservatives, since Twitter knows President Trump has the most sophisticated online program ever known.”

- Brad Parscale, Trump 2020 campaign manager
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