If online platforms won’t commit to a publicly available, platform-neutral, machine-readable register of all political ads and ad data online, then they should consider following Twitter’s lead in banning political advertising.
This is the reaction made by the ad agency professional body, the IPA, in a statement released today (31 October 2019) in light of yesterday’s announcement that Twitter is to ban all political advertising on its platform.
"We welcome Twitter’s decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter.
"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 microtargeted advertising.
"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.
"While we support regulation, we do not foresee this happening any time soon, if at all. In its absence, platforms need to step up and consider their responsibilities. At the very least, but immediately, 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. If they cannot provide this they should consider following Twitter’s lead."