Political ads on social networks have become a lot more complicated in France after the French parliament passed the so-called “fake news law” in late 2018. But the French government didn’t expect Twitter to refuse an ad telling you to register to vote for the European election in May.
Among other things, the fake news law says that you can’t run a political ad without complying to a new set of rules. For instance, social networks have to display who is paying for those campaigns. Social networks also have to say how much money they receive for those campaigns.
As Next INpact noted, Twitter updated its terms of service on February 1 to say that all political campaigning ads are forbidden in France.
Maybe Twitter isn’t ready yet to display this information. Maybe Twitter thinks public interest campaigns related to an election are political ads. But there’s one thing for sure — Twitter can refuse any ad on its own website.
But the minister of culture, the minister of digital and the minister of the interior all complained about Twitter’s decision… on Twitter.
This morning, Cédric O, the newly appointed digital minister, talked with Twitter executives to convince them to change their mind. And it worked — Twitter has updated its terms of service and this decision could have broader consequences in other European countries.
A Twitter spokesperson sent me the following statement:
Promoting and protecting the integrity of #EUelection2019 is a core part of our mission for the next few months. That includes encouraging voter participation. Following enactment of the “Manipulation de l’information” law, we decided to prohibit all issue based advertising targeting France, which included Get Out The Vote type campaigns. Following consideration, we have now decided to allow campaigns aimed at encouraging voter participation. We are please to make this clarification and will continue to promote and protect the integrity of the #EUelection2019 conversation in the coming months.
I interviewed Cédric O yesterday and he thinks terms of service give too much power to social networks. “When Facebook updates its terms of service, it has regulatory effects — it nearly becomes legislation — for 2 billion people,” he said. Maybe it’s time to end the big lie of terms of service.