IPA welcomes Twitter political ad ban and calls on other platforms to 'step up'

Industry body says all online political micro-targeted advertising should be banned.

The IPA has welcomed Twitter's decision to ban political ads on the site from 22 November and has called on other platforms to follow suit.

The advertising industry body, which has lobbied the government to address the spread of "political micro-targeting and unchecked misleading information", said other platforms should either commit to a publicly available register of all political ads posted online or follow Twitter's lead and "step up and consider their responsibilities".

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey announced the move in a tweet on Wednesday, revealing more information would be made available on 15 November ahead of the ban. He outlined the reasons through a series of tweets, saying: "While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics."

"Jack Dorsey’s statement specifically references the dangers to civic discourse presented by political micro-targeting and unchecked misleading information. This is something we have repeatedly highlighted and lobbied government to address. And is the reason behind our repeated call for a ban on online political micro-targeted advertising," Paul Bainsfair, IPA director-general, said.

"Politics relies on the public square – on open, collective debate. We, however, believe micro-targeted political ads circumvent this. Very small numbers of voters can be targeted with specific messages that exist online only briefly. Crucially, in the absence of regulation, we believe this almost hidden form of political communication is vulnerable to abuse."

Bainsfair added that while the industry supported regulation, it does not foresee that happening soon, if at all.

"Platforms should fully commit their support, money and resources to a publicly available, platform-neutral, machine-readable register of all political ads and ad data online," he continued. "If they cannot provide this, they should consider following Twitter’s lead."

ByteDance's TikTok also revealed a blanket ban on all political advertising earlier this month. 

This article first appeared on PRWeek sister title Campaign

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