Twitter chief Jack Dorsey scored PR gold with his Oct. 30 decision to ban political advertising on his platform.
His genius move followed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony on Capitol Hill, where he made the nonsensical argument that his platform doesn't want to infringe on the right of politicians to run ads filled with lies and misinformation. Zuckerberg positioned Facebook as the First Amendment guardian of unethical politicians.
That triggered a protest letter signed by 250 Facebook employees, demanding that Zuckerburg reverse course and fact-check political advertising as it does for commercial spots.
Virginia Senator Mark Warner found it necessary to school Zuck on the different level of scrutiny received by political ads that run in traditional media and those on social platforms.
In his Oct. 29 letter to Zuckerberg, the Democrat noted that broadcast, cable and print ads are broadly accessible to the electorate, press, fact-checkers and political opponents through media monitoring services. He wrote:
"As a result, strong disincentives exist for a candidate to disseminate materially false, inflammatory or contradictory messages to the public.
"By contrast, social media platforms tout their ability to target portions of the electorate with direct ephemeral advertisments—often on the basis of private information the platform has on individual users, facilitating political advertisements that are contradictory, racially or socially inflammatory, or materially false without the same constraint as more traditional communications media, and without affording opposing candidates an equal opportunity to respond directly in front of the same targeted audience."
C'mon, Mark. You know this stuff? Why be so stubborn about sticking with political ads? Do you really need another headache with Washington?
Saint Jack Dorsey is smelling like a rose with a decision to forgo a tiny piece of revenues. Twitter gets less than $3M of its $3B revenues from political ads.
Zuckerberg needs to burst from his Silicon Valley bubble and hire a PR firm to advise him to drop political advertising ASAP.
The firm's fee will be the best money that Facebook has ever spent.