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After Twitter bans political ads, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg says they’re ‘not worth the controversy’

After Twitter bans political ads, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg says they’re ‘not worth the controversy’
[Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Vanity Fair]

Facebook has issued its first public comments about political advertising on its platform after Twitter took the surprising step of banning all political ads on its service. In an interview with Bloomberg (via Business Insider), Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg defended the company’s stance on political advertising, telling the outlet that Facebook’s position on political ads remains unchanged.

“[We] believe in free expression, we believe in political speech, and ads can be an important part of that,” Sandberg told Bloomberg. However, many have criticized Facebook in recent weeks after the company said it would not only continue to run political advertising but that it would allow political ads to be shown even if they contained outright lies.

The worry is, of course, that such ads could spread disinformation and manipulate people into supporting candidates or issues that don’t accurately reflect the reality of the situation. It’s a worry that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey shares. As Dorsey tweeted last night, “Internet political ads present entirely new challenges to civic discourse: machine learning-based optimization of messaging and micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes. All at increasing velocity, sophistication, and overwhelming scale.”

The thread in which Dorsey’s above tweet is in begins at this tweet below, and the whole thing is well worth the read.

However, it’s now clear Dorsey’s view isn’t shared by Facebook or Sandberg. But while many detractors of Facebook’s political ad stance claim Facebook is putting revenue above social cohesion, Sandberg says that’s simply not the case. “We’re not doing it because of the money,” she told Bloomberg. “[Political ads on Facebook are] less than 1% of our revenue and the revenue is not worth the controversy.”

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