Left Fears Twitter’s Ad Ban Will Remove ‘Climate Change’ Ads

November 1st, 2019 2:24 PM

The left only wants free speech for their side, but no one else.

In a piece published on Medium, former Slate technology writer Will Oremus warned that Twitter’s decision to ban ads will hurt liberal causes. He wrote, “banning political ads is not as straightforward, nor as obviously correct, as those cheering Dorsey’s announcement seem to think.” The article argued that the Twitter ad ban will hurt “activists, labor groups, and organizers.”

The ban was painted as unjust, because while ads about climate change would be banned, corporations would not be. Oremus asked, “But what about ads by oil companies, car companies, and steakhouses? They’re political too, in a sense—but not the sense that will get them banned.”

CEO Jack Dorsey wrote in a tweet that ads on Twitter from politicians or ads that addressed political issues would be banned as of November.

Oremus cited a piece in The Verge in a subsequent tweet that reportedly showed how the ad ban in Washington state did not work. “High-profile ads were ultimately removed by Facebook, usually after they were reported in the media — but plenty of others skated through” The Verge reported. It then went on to cite Ari Hoffman, who ran for office in Seattle, who said that the policy had been “weaponized” by the politicians.

Twitter Policy Lead Vijaya Gadde confirmed in a tweet Oremus’ worst fear: political issues like “climate change, healthcare, immigration, national security, taxes” would be banned from ads. Oremus said about Gadde’s tweet, “You don’t have to look past the first of those examples to start to see the problem.”

Oremus wanted climate change not to be a political issue, saying, “It’s an issue of critical importance to the future of all humanity, provided you accept the scientific consensus.”

The Twitter ad ban did nothing to address the “bigotry” on the platform, said Oremus. In fact, just by being on Twitter, incumbents in elections were given an “advantage,” especially if they had large followings. Oremus wanted Twitter, and indeed all of Big Tech, “to take on the laborious editorial responsibilities of sifting truth from falsehood, and legitimate arguments from bigotry or propaganda.”

The Director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Emily Bell, also foresaw a problem with the ad ban. She wrote, “General applause for Twitter's political ad ban ...though as discussed in this thread the idea of banning ads which for instance advocate for climate policy changes might cause friction.”

Heather Succio, who runs climate change ads on Twitter, wrote in response to CEO Jack Dorsey’s announcement, “I'm a certified political ’Issue Advertiser,’ meaning Twitter required me to label my advertisements about #climatechange with a ‘paid for by’ disclaimer. What's going to happen to all of the former ’political’ topic ads, no longer needing a disclaimer?”

The left is angry that online censorship might not simply hurt conservatives or the Republican Party. It might affect them, too.