Hillary Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shared opposing views Wednesday regarding Twitter's recent call to ban all political advertisements while gearing up for the 2020 presidential election.
Clinton praised the Twitter move and urged Facebook to follow suit, saying such moves would prevent a repeat of the spread of false information that occurred during the last presidential election.
"Twitter made the right decision to say, 'Look, we don’t want to get into the judging game,'” Clinton said at The New York Times DealBook Conference in New York City. “I think that should be the decision that Facebook makes as well.”
But McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor in Washington, slammed the new Twitter policy as an effort to undermine the First Amendment right to free speech. McConnell said a ban on paid candidate and issue ads would only hurt “fledgling speakers who are not already famous.”
Clinton also encouraged Facebook to ban political ads given its track record during the 2016 presidential election, when Russian operatives spread misinformation on American politics prior to the vote.
“We know unfortunately that Facebook has a history of allowing all kinds of disinformation on its platform,” Clinton said. “During the 2016 campaign, they were taking ads from a number of sources and later revealing that actually ads paid for in rubles were part of what they were putting out.”
Clinton also rejected arguments that by allowing paid political ads, Facebook was protecting free speech. She instead accused the platform of prioritizing its revenue stream instead of fulfilling its duty to American people to stop the spread of misinformation given that “more than 50 percent of people in this country use Facebook as their only source of news.”
“If you were to say to your expert engineers, out algorithms really favor the explosive, the inflammatory, the blatantly false and we love to hook people into them and they seek more of it and then they get absolutely barraged by all of this information, we need to tweak the algorithms,” she said.
She also admitted that the Democratic Party partially to blame given decades-long ties to Silicon Valley.
On Wednesday, McConnell said Twitter’s new policy on paid political advertising “would just amplify the already privileged speakers who already possess multimillion-dollar platforms. It would just help clear the field for those elites by denying the same tools to fledgling speakers who are not already famous.”
It does “not bolster our democracy. It would degrade democracy. It would amplify the advantage of media companies, celebrities and certain other established elites while denying an important tool to the Americans who disagree with them,” he continued, according to The Hill.
"It would degrade democracy. It would amplify the advantage of media companies, celebrities and certain other established elites."
"Twitter's leadership has tried to produce a rationale for banishing paid political speech, but the argument boils down to the same misunderstanding that has been used to undermine free speech for decades,” McConnell continued.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced last week that the platform will stop all political advertising — including candidate ads and issue ads — globally starting next month.