A Different Twit…
“The reach of political messages should be earned, and not bought.”
Well, neither a Moralist nor a Leftist leader has issued this statement… this statement has been issued by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, one of the most successful Businessmen in the world of sophisticated Technology! He recently said so while announcing Twitter’s decision to ban Political Advertisements (ahead of the 2020 US Presidential Elections).
On an average, 120 million people worldwide use this microblogging site every day. It is a fact that the figure is smaller than the daily users of Facebook. However, no one can underestimate or ignore 120 million consumers… indeed, it is a huge number, especially for the politicians! Quite a few modern-day politicians make important announcements or express their views on Twitter. They also use this platform to advertise their positions on various sensitive issues… which they cannot do from November 22.
The decision certainly raises some important questions. One can consider such a decision as an attack on the Freedom of Speech or Freedom of Expression. It is to be noted that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had expressed a completely different view, stating that a ban on Political Advertisements would curtail the Freedom of Expression. Perhaps, his knowledge about how to run a business successfully encouraged Zuckerberg to take such a stand. However, it is difficult to counter his argument, logically.
Each and every organisation should have the right to control its Advertising Policy. Else, inappropriate or dangerous advertisements cannot be censored. There are also some rules and regulations to control advertisements in every country. Still, the decision to stop all political advertisements is contrary to democratic norms. It is not at all a legal issue… a business house certainly has the right to decide whether to publish any advertisement, or not… however, the mass media have to deal with Morality or Ethics, apart from legal issues. And, this is a Moral issue… the issue of Democratic Freedom!
The second question is about the effectiveness of Dorsey’s decision. Experts are of the opinion that Twitter’s move would not create trouble for the powerful Politicians, as broadsheets and the audio-visual media cover their stories on a regular basis. Instead, the decision will affect the comparatively unpopular politicians, who depend on the social networking sites to communicate with the voters. The Twitter CEO did not talk about the effectiveness, but morality or ethics! He has argued that internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers. As a result, it brings “significant risks” to politics, where it can be used to influence votes in order to affect the lives of millions! “Internet political ads present entirely new challenges to civic discourse: machine learning-based optimisation of messaging and micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes. All at increasing velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale,” he twitted!
It is a fact that advertisements on the social media have emerged as a powerful tool to ‘Political Criminalisation’. In fact, the social media have become stronger due to their ability to deliver a message to a maximum number of people almost immediately, and simultaneously. This ability also makes the social media a dangerous platform to harm the society. Therefore, the initiative to control or ban advertisements on the social media can well be considered to be as a weak barrier or dam constructed only by sand, but it definitely is not an absolutely absurd one.
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