I applaud Twitter’s decision to not run political advertising. I wish Facebook would do the same.
As a result of the ads consumers see and read, the default is suspicion -- not believability -- and that’s a real shame.
There was a time, a long time ago, that we believed in the media. Today we live in a world where brands cannot make false claims, but politicians can. State and federal laws are in place to protect consumers from false or misleading advertising from brands. These laws make deceptive claims illegal. But under the First Amendment, politicians can run whatever they want on Facebook and Youtube.
According to the First Amendment, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
As a nation we decided that we needed to be protected from false advertising claims. I believe we need to be protected from all false claims, including political ones.
The argument against policing is who will get to police. That’s an important question that deserves a national discussion. But it seems like our nation, right now, is unwilling to have that discussion.
Hopefully Twitter’s example will force that discussion quickly. But in the meantime, the only sensible thing to do to protect our democracy, is to not accept political advertising if the messages cannot be fact-checked for truth, which is more than just disclosing that the ad is paid for by a politician.
As a nation, we should not accept that our politicians make false claims in paid media.
We teach our children not to lie and we value integrity, honesty and transparency in our staff, so we should expect and demand the same level of truthfulness from our politicians.
Until we decide how to ensure that social media run truthful ads, they should not run political advertising.