While New Twitter Policy Will Ban Green Groups' Climate Ads, Looks Like ExxonMobil Can Still Pay to Promote Its Propaganda
While an international debate rages over how social media companies manage political advertising and misinformation, a report published Tuesday in Emily Atkin’s HEATED newsletter exposed that some of oil giant ExxonMobil’s climate messaging is apparently exempt from Twitter’s recently revised and restrictive ad policy.
“Under the new policy, [ExxonMobil’s climate] ads will be permitted to run after November 22, while environmental groups’ climate-related ads will be banned.”
—Emily Atkin, HEATED
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey won hesitant praise from some journalists and Democratic politicians last week when he announced a new ban on “all” political advertisements globally.
In an apparent swipe at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has stood firm in the face of intense criticism over his decision to let political candidates pay to spread lies on his platform, Dorsey said of Twitter’s policy: “This isn’t about free expression. This is about paying for reach.”
However, amid celebrations over Twitter’s effort combat online misinformation by banning ads about candidates as well as “issue ads” from companies and other groups, “it’s become clear that there are some problems with Twitter’s new policy,” Atkin reported. “It’s easy to determine which ads are about specific candidates. But what is Twitter’s definition of a political ‘issue ad,’ exactly? How does Twitter plan to enforce what is one, and isn’t one?”
According to Atkin:
Atkin’s report includes screenshots and embeds of ExxonMobil’s climate-related ads that will still be permissible under Twitter’s new rules:
With ExxonMobil’s ads on low-carbon investments, “they’re promoting technologies that don’t yet exist at any meaningful scale,” Supran said. “There is not a product to sell. So what purpose do these ads conceivably serve other than to promote a political narrative on climate change and energy that protects Exxon’s business interests?”
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