X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, will reverse a ban on political ads that was imposed in the pre-Musk era, in a move that could have far-reaching significance as the next U.S. presidential election year approaches.
The political ads ban was imposed in 2019, just a year before the 2020 election, when social media censorship was at an all-time high. At that time, as revealed by the Twitter Files, the company was under intense pressure by the media, NGOs, and the security deep state to censor political content.
The CEO at the time, Jack Dorsey, said he believed “political message reach should be earned, not bought.”
The company would go on to suppress all manner of non-bought political messages throughout the 2020 campaign, from tweets by Donald Trump to the New York Post’s reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop story.
In a blog post, Twitter/X’s Trust and Safety Department — the department tasked with censorship policies on the platform — said the goal was to build on its “commitment to free expression,” although the company also said it would continue to remove content it considers “false or misleading.”
Via the official X blog:
Building on our commitment to free expression, we are also going to allow political advertising. Starting in the U.S., we’ll continue to apply specific policies to paid-for promoted political posts. This will include prohibiting the promotion of false or misleading content, including false or misleading information intended to undermine public confidence in an election, while seeking to preserve free and open political discourse. We’ll also provide a global advertising transparency center so that everyone can review political posts being promoted on X, in addition to robust screening processes to ensure only eligible groups and campaigns are able to advertise.
Mike Benz, head of anti-censorship nonprofit the Foundation for Freedom Online, criticized X for using the old language of censorship.
There’s no such thing as “unsafe political discourse.” X already has policies in place for violent threats.
This is Orwellian doublespeak ahead of 2024 to launder in a Twitter 2.0 “safety” predicate for political censorship.
Just like Twitter 1.0’s BS ‘trust & safety’ team. https://t.co/bNH26KMptF
— Mike Benz (@MikeBenzCyber) August 29, 2023
“There’s no such thing as ‘unsafe political discourse,’” said Benz. “X already has policies in place for violent threats. This is Orwellian doublespeak ahead of 2024 to launder in a Twitter 2.0 ‘safety’ predicate for political censorship.”
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election. Follow him on Twitter @AllumBokhari.