Here we go:
Twitter will begin labeling political ads about issues like immigration https://t.co/9hBaIFOubn
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 30, 2018
The Washington Post reports that Twitter will soon “begin requiring some organizations that purchase political ads on topics such as abortion, health-care reform and immigration to disclose more information about themselves to users,” as part of social media’s ongoing windmill-tilting effort to halt political propaganda.
The new policy will involve a process of verifying the identities of those purchasing political ads, then approving the ads.
Twitter says it will focus on promoted tweet ads that specifically refer to candidates or deal with “legislative issues of national importance,” which leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Will there be strict criteria for what is deemed important on a national scale?
The most troubling subjective part of the policy — given Twitter’s and Dorsey’s histories — is that “it will allow some large news organizations to seek exemptions from disclosures surrounding issue ads.”
To the chagrin of some media publishers, Facebook has not been doing this, which they say is “improperly characterizing such news coverage as political advertising.”
That’s the laugh line for those of us concerned about liberal media bias. The notion that major media outlets (CNN anyone?) aren’t engaging in the blatant spreading of propaganda is patently absurd, especially since January 20th, 2017. Every news outlet that refers to abortion as “women’s health” is doing nothing but advocating for a side.
Any subjective criteria left in the hands of Dorsey will be suspect too. He is far more public and proud about his personal political biases than Mark Zuckerberg. His track record on political objectivity is nonexistent.
If new policies were to include specific safeguards against unfairly targeting conservative content, this attempt at curbing stealth propaganda might be more widely embraced.
Facebook has been horrible in going after conservatives, and Twitter is often worse.
A little more public acknowledgement and concern about this issue would go a long way in reassuring conservatives that new policies are just the old policies dressed up in some feel-good you-know-what covering.