Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has been on a crusade to force social media platforms like Facebook to crack down on political ads, claiming that lenient ad policies, like the one Facebook employs, allow political campaigns to lie about key issues, creating confusion.
But her concerns seem to end at social media political ads she disagrees with. When Twitter announced a crackdown on political ads — like the one Warren is pushing for Facebook — Warren lashed out at the social media platform for censoring important content because Twitter’s definition of “politics” includes contentious issues like “climate change.”
“Twitter’s new ad policy will allow fossil fuel companies to buy ads defending themselves and spreading misleading info—but won’t allow organizations fighting the climate crisis to buy ads holding those companies accountable. We need accountability,” the Democratic presidential contender wailed in a tweet.
Twitter's new ad policy will allow fossil fuel companies to buy ads defending themselves and spreading misleading info—but won't allow organizations fighting the climate crisis to buy ads holding those companies accountable. We need accountability. https://t.co/B9RtX7hC5g
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) November 5, 2019
Just last month, Warren, of course, made the opposite argument against Facebook, buying an intentionally misleading political ad on the social network to demonstrate that Facebook does not adquately police purchased content.
The ad started with a claim that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had endorsed Donald Trump and ended with the Massachusetts Democrat revealing that her ad had been deliberately fabricated to demonstrate what could get by Facebook’s ad censors.
“You’re probably shocked,” the ad read. “And you might be thinking, ‘how could this possibly be true?’ Well, it’s not.”
We intentionally made a Facebook ad with false claims and submitted it to Facebook’s ad platform to see if it’d be approved,” Warren later tweeted. “It got approved quickly.”
She then accused Facebook of prioritizing profits over quality and honesty, eventually even moaning that the social network was “taking money to promote lies.”
Facebook responded that, “FCC doesn’t want broadcast companies censoring candidates’ speech” and “[w]e agree it’s better to let voters — not companies — decide.”
Twitter seems to be taking the opposite view, announcing last week that it would be policing all political content — including issue-based content — on its platform in an effort to curb the spread of misinformation.
“We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,” Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted last Wednesday. “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.”
“Political advertising,” Jack went on, includes “issue ads.”
“We considered stopping only candidate ads, but issue ads present a way to circumvent. Additionally, it isn’t fair for everyone but candidates to buy ads for issues they want to push. So we’re stopping these too.”
That includes, per Twitter’s policies:
1/ Ads that refer to an election or a candidate, or
2/ Ads that advocate for or against legislative issues of national importance (such as: climate change, healthcare, immigration, national security, taxes)
Essentially, Dorsey’s rationale is the same as Warren’s: social networks should take responsibility for misinformation being spread on their network by actively policing content. The only way to do that is either to allow all political and issue content or to ban all political or issue content. Facebook chose the former and earned Warren’s ire. Twitter chose the latter and, well, also earned Warren’s ire.
The only difference with Twitter’s policy is, of course, that it actively prevents Warren’s allies from purchasing ads promoting their particular political ideas — and she certainly doesn’t like that.
Unfortunately for speech purists, it seems Warren’s concerns struck a chord with the leftist mob on Twitter and Dorsey was backed into a corner. Responding to Warren, he said that the rules were not yet official and that he and his team were taking their concerns under advisement: “We haven’t announced our new rules yet. They come out 11/15. Taking all this into consideration.”