Is Twitter the beginning of a social media crackdown on political advertising?

Is Twitter the beginning of a social media crackdown on political advertising?

November 22, 20192 min read

Social media companies are under increasing pressure to crack down on misleading political advertising leading into the 2020 presidential election. Twitter’s ban on political advertising takes effect this month, but will the move make an impact?

Tulane University social media expert Ashley Nelson is available to speak about how the change could affect campaigns and users’ political speech.

“Enforcing this new Twitter content ban will be interesting to watch from the sidelines,” says Nelson, a professor of practice at Tulane’s A. B. Freeman School of Business. “How will Twitter users manipulate what a political ad may look like in the future? If someone allows a political ad for one party to squeak through the bots, then will the other side cry foul and demand their ads be seen? A court challenge is likely to occur based on the First Amendment, which covers political speech.”

Twitter has been focusing on improving the user experience and sees political ads as harmful to this experience, Nelson says.   

But will the ban affect Twitter's bottom line? 

“Twitter is not making a lot of money with political ads anyway. More revenue may be made by removing some of this political clutter, so people will click on ads from companies. Of the 500 million tweets a day, fewer political ads will not be noticed unless you are looking for them — and why would you?”

Twitter isn’t alone in making changes to how political campaigns can target consumers on social media and online. Google announced that it would start limiting the abilities of political advertisers to target consumers based on their political affiliation or public voter records. Facebook is also considering changing its political advertising policy by increasing the minimum number of people who can be targeted by political ads.

To speak with Nelson, please contact or Keith Brannon at 504-862-8789.

Connect with:
  • Ashley Nelson
    Ashley Nelson Professor of Practice, Management Communications

    Ashley Nelson is an expert in social media, executive communication and strategy and content development.

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