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- Twitter is enduring criticism this week related to its newly-announced ban on political ads, which will bar advertising on topics related to “legislative issues” like immigration or global warming .
- While Twitter’s policy would ostensibly block environmental groups from running ads about global warming, Exxon has still been allowed to run Twitter ads related to climate change.
- The apparent loophole, first noted by the Heated World newsletter, drew widespread criticism from left-wing groups and politicians, including US Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.
- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded that the ad policy hasn’t been finalized and Twitter is “taking all this into consideration.”
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Twitter’s new ban on political ads means that environmental advocacy groups won’t be able to buy ads on the platform related to climate change given its “legislative importance” – but ads about climate change are currently still fair game for major oil companies like Exxon.
When Twitter announced last month that it was banning political ads, the decision was met with a largely positive response from elections watchdogs, who criticized Facebook for refusing to fact-check ads bought by politicians.
But enforcing the political ad ban is already proving to be a difficult feat for Twitter, and it highlights the challenges tech companies face when defining the limits of their advertising policies.
As the climate newsletter Heated World first pointed out earlier this week, Exxon has continued to run ads related to climate change in the days following Twitter’s announcement of the political-ad ban. Meanwhile, Twitter’s public policy lead Vijaya Gadde said political ads related to climate change will be banned.
The apparent contradiction drew backlash from left-wing groups and US Senator Elizabeth Warren.
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
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has acknowledged the criticism, saying in a tweet that the specifics of the ad ban won’t be finalized until November 15 and that Twitter is “taking all this into consideration.”
We’ll share the final policy by 11/15, including a few exceptions (ads in support of voter registration will still be allowed, for instance). We’ll start enforcing our new policy on 11/22 to provide current advertisers a notice period before this change goes into effect.
— jack ???????????? (@jack) October 30, 2019
A Twitter spokesperson declined to provide further comment beyond Dorsey’s tweets.