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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Says Social Media Giant Will Stop Accepting Political Ads

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/CNN) -- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took to his social media platform Wednesday, announcing the company would no longer accept political advertising, proclaiming "political message reach should be earned, not bought."

The announcement comes amid increasing scrutiny of Silicon Valley's handling of political ads as the 2020 presidential campaign begins picking up momentum in earnest.

"We've made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought," Dorsey tweeted.

"A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money," he added.

In a lengthy series of tweets about the decision, Dorsey continued, "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."

"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."

Dorsey said the company would share more details about the policy on November 15th and would stop accepting political ads on November 22nd.

Political analyst Paul Henderson says the move is Twitter regulating itself before the government does.

"It takes Twitter outside of the growing conversation demanding higher accountability in social media platforms, so we have pure speech, pure ideas and pure conversations about politics and voting that isn't influenced by money and political action committees, or partisan types of directions or even foreign directions," Henderson told KPIX 5.

Earlier this month former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign wrote to Twitter and other social media companies asking them to stop running an ad that falsely accused Biden of corruption over his role in Ukraine policy during the Obama administration.

Facebook has been under fire recently for allowing politicians to lie in their campaign advertisements on the platform. Last month, Facebook announced it would not fact-check political ads on its platform even if they might be false, saying such statements could be and that it doesn't want to act as a "referee" for political debates.

On Wednesday during an earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg again defending his company's decision on political ads, saying he didn't think it was right in a democracy to censor politicians or the news, although he would still consider not carrying such ads in the future.

"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 debates. And it's hard to define where to draw the line. Would we really block ads for important political issues like climate change or women's empowerment?" said Zuckerberg.

While Facebook and many legal experts have defended the company's right not to censor political candidates, some critics including Sen. Elizabeth Warren have slammed the company for running what Warren termed a "disinformation-for-profit machine."

Zuckerberg denied that the decision to allow political ads was simply to earn more revenue. "I can assure you, from a business perspective, the controversy this creates far outweighs the very small percent of our business that these political ads make up. We estimate these ads from politicians will be less than 0.5% of our revenue next year."


© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten. CNN contributed to this report.

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