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Will Twitter’s move to ban political advertising impact India?

On Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the company was banning political advertising as internet political advertising presents new challenges to civic discourse including unchecked misleading information and deep fakes at an increasing velocity and overwhelming scale.

 Dorsey's announcement comes in the wake of rival social media platform Facebook facing intense inspection in Congressional hearings in the US because of its stance on running political ads with fallacious declaration this month.

Chiefly, it is a good thing. Twitter CEO has stated that political message reach should be earned and not bought. But I don’t think this will have any influence in India as a considerable chunk of political ads in India go to Facebook and Google which makes the most money on political ads as their reach are also much more. If Facebook and Google follow suit, the effect will be extensive,” said Naresh Arora, political social media strategist and director of Design Boxed, political digital campaign management. The company, which was one of the agencies hired by Congress for the 2019 general elections.
Advertisers and digital campaigners for national political parties said Twitter's step to ban all political advertising across markets is improbable to make repercussions in India as political parties do not use paid, promoted tweets to advertise on the social media platform and that a huge slab of political advertising in the country is cornered by Google and Facebook.

in charge of BJP's national information and technology, Amit Malviya said the party is 'quite indifferent' to Twitter's decision to ban political ads as 'its strength on the platform is completely organic and also A Digital marketing professional Manveer Singh Malhi, who has worked on political campaigns in the past, said Twitter has lost out on political ads to platforms like Facebook and Google as the latter offers more sophisticated and efficient micro-targeting tools. “If you compare factors like geolocation, compared to platforms like Google, Twitter is quite weak. On Facebook and Google, I can target users via pin codes, by miles, radius. A local politician would need that,” Malhi.

In a series of tweets, Dorsey said while online advertising is amazingly robust and very efficient for commercial advertisers, that power brings major risk to politics where it can be used to manipulate votes to shape the lives of millions. Dorsey announced that Twitter will enforce the new policy by November 22, to provide current advertisers a notice period before this change goes into effect.

“Nobody in India buys political ads on Twitter. In India, the political usage of Twitter is primarily to trend things. The trending is not done through Twitter’s paid ads but usually by buying or creating influencers and roping in agencies to get to a certain volume of tweets,” said chief executive of OMLogic Consulting, Kapil Gupta, the agency that has worked on campaigns for BJP, Congress, Lok Dal and Akali Dal in the past.

There could be a distinct impact if the social media giant says it will clamp down on political promotions on twitter which essentially involve tracking the visibility of people when they are in political conversations, the trending that happens through the same profiles talking about different political topics every day. Then, the political parties will need to rethink their political strategies,” he added.

Political analyst Gaurav Pandhi said promoted content costs on Twitter turn out to be very expensive and very ineffective compared to Facebook. I have not seen any political party using promotions on Twitter. This could lead to people pressing Facebook to doing it too and if Facebook stops political advertising it will hugely impact political parties.”

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