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Here’s The Major Exception To Twitter’s Political Ad Ban

The policy may be less sweeping than CEO Jack Dorsey initially announced.

Posted on November 11, 2019, at 7:02 p.m. ET

Frederic J. Brown / Getty Images

Representatives from Twitter met with advertisers last week to discuss the specifics of what might be — and won’t be — included in its ban on political advertising. In those meetings, Twitter staffers suggested that ads that spread awareness about issues of national significance would still be allowed after the ban takes effect. Ads that advocate for a specific candidate or piece of legislation will be banned, according to one advertiser briefed on Twitter’s plans.

“For candidates, it seems like none of that advertising is going to be allowed,” the advertiser said. “For issue advocacy, the rules are a little bit more permissive.”

“The exceptions, from what Twitter [Global VP of Revenue and Content Partnerships Matt] Derella has told me, will be for organizations that are not directly talking about a legislative issue,” the advertiser said.

In other words: Ads talking about climate change generally are likely going to be accepted; ads about the legislation that would enact the Green New Deal are not.

“Issue awareness ads would be allowed, issue action-oriented ads that are based on a specific policy are definitely not,” the advertiser said, according to their interpretation of the meeting with Twitter.

Twitter still hasn’t hammered out the exact contours of the policy, which is due to be announced Nov. 15, but this version would allow political advertisers room to spread their message on the platform, though in a much more limited manner than today.

When announced later this week, the policy will contain more detail, but these conversations indicate that Twitter is considering a ban less sweeping than initially indicated by Dorsey when he tweeted, “We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally.”

"As we previously said, the full language of Twitter's new political ads policy will be public by the end of the week," Twitter spokesperson Nick Pacilio told BuzzFeed News.

Dorsey indicated that there would be exceptions to the policy on political ads last week, in response to criticisms from Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who claimed on Nov. 5 that Twitter would allow ads from fossil fuel companies while banning ads from organizations fighting the climate crisis. Dorsey wrote, “We haven’t announced our new rules yet. They come out 11/15. Taking all this into consideration.”

When Instagram head Adam Mosseri added, “You can’t ban these ads without significantly inhibiting the ability of activists, labor groups, and organizers to make their cases too,” Dorsey responded, “That’s not exactly right, Adam. We gave ourselves until the 15th to make sure we’re addressing concerns like this thoughtfully.”


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