Twitter’s ‘ban’ on political ads has a gaping, legacy media-shaped loophole

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Trying to stay ahead of spurious allegations of enabling ‘Russian meddling’ into US elections, Twitter has outlawed all political advertising – but left an exemption most US legacy media, though partisan, will easily sail through.

“Twitter globally prohibits the promotion of political content. We have made this decision based on our belief that political message reach should be earned, not bought,” the company announced Friday, sharing the details of its ad ban.

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Elaborating on the decision in a thread, Twitter’s head of legal, policy and Trust & Safety Vijaya Gadde effectively admitted that the ban was driven by concerns over digital advertising “driving political outcomes” – even though the effects of micro-targeted ads “are not yet fully understood.”

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The ban is scheduled to go into effect on November 22. In addition to banning candidates, parties, and affiliated groups like political action committees (PACs) from advertising, Twitter is also ruling out ads that are about influencing votes, parties, ballot initiatives or elections. “Cause-based ads” will be allowed with certain restrictions, but again not when coming from candidates, parties or politicians.

If this sounds convoluted, banning both people and content, that’s because it is. However, the policy has a sizeable exemption for “news publishers” who can run ads referencing “political content and/or prohibited advertisers,” so long as there is no advocacy for or against.

To qualify, a publication’s website must have “a minimum of 200,000 monthly unique visitors in the US,” the ability to contact its editors and reporters online, have a searchable archive, and not be a user-generated platform or aggregator. Nor can the publication be dedicated to advocating on a single issue.

These parameters clearly skew the playing field in favor of US legacy media – despite its open partisanship over the past several years. Not only have the legacy media and Democrats blamed the social media for enabling the election of President Donald Trump, they have also led the charge in pressuring Twitter, Facebook and others to “deplatform” any alternative voices they might find unsavory.

As voice after voice gets purged from social media, still think there’s no censorship?

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Most recently, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) actually demanded Twitter suspend Trump’s account as part of her pitch for the 2020 presidential nomination – so far, without effect.

In August, Twitter rolled out a ban on ads from “state-controlled news media entities,” using a convoluted definition that also carves out exemptions for well-established legacy outlets in the West.

(Full disclosure: Twitter banned RT ads long before that, without explanation or process, following the initial 2017 congressional hearings into social media platforms, and the revelation that it proposed a multi-million dollar deal to RT during the 2016 election, which was declined.)

The vast majority – about 86 percent – of Twitter’s revenue comes from advertising, with data licensing and other sources accounting for the rest. The company turned an annual profit for the first time in 2018, five years after going public.

BIASED: EX-FBI AGENT ANDREW MCCABE TO HEADLINE DEMOCRAT FUNDRAISER

Biased: Ex-FBI Agent Andrew McCabe To Headline Democrat Fundraiser

Former Deputy Director of FBI who led phony Russia probe into Trump also joined CNN as contributor

 | SEPTEMBER 4, 2019

In a move further showcasing his political bias against President Trump, disgraced former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is set to headline a Democrat fundraiser in Pennsylvania later this month.

According to the Pennsylvania Democratic Party’s website, McCabe is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a fundraising banquet for the Lancaster County Democratic Committee, whose ticket cost ranges from $80 to $160.

The event says McCabe will discuss:

– The Firing of FBI Director James Comey and the fallout and aftermath
Russian meddling in the 2016 election
– Mr. McCabe’s one-on-one interactions with Donald Trump during his tenure
– The Mueller investigations and report

“Lest anyone thinks this will be a gloomy take on things, Mr. McCabe says he is sure there are brighter days ahead and will talk about why he feels this way,” the local party writes. “Please join us for what is sure to be one of the most interesting evenings we have ever had!”

McCabe was fired from the FBI in 2018 after its own Office of Professional Responsibility concluded he lied to investigators about leaking to the press.

McCabe insisted he was unbiased in his investigation of Trump, but after his firing he abandoned all pretense of impartiality, writing a book called, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, which NPR called the “darkest vision of [the] Trump presidency yet.”

And last month he joined CNN, the notoriously anti-Trump fake news network, as a regular political contributor.

At this point, he’s taunting investigators and the American people that the FBI counterintelligence investigation into Trump was designed to remove him from office.

The Department of Justice is reportedly close to determining whether to indict McCabe, as Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s FISA report is set to be released in weeks.

UK tabloids theorize Russia hacked ambassador’s Trump memos… as London eggs them on

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London has said there is no evidence that a foreign state was behind the recent leaks from its embassy in Washington, but this hasn’t stopped British officials from quietly feeding tabloid narratives blaming Russia for the affair.

The UK government is in full damage-control mode after a series of memos penned by the UK ambassador to Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, were leaked to the press. The diplomatic cables described US President Donald Trump as “incompetent.”

While British officials appear to believe that the embarrassing leaks were carried out by an “unpatriotic” insider, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt didn’t seem to mind playing along with tabloid speculation that Russia is somehow at fault.

Pressed by the Sun about whether he believed “hostile states such as Russia” may be behind the leaks, Hunt was all too happy to quietly fan the flames – even while acknowledging that there was no reason to suspect that Russia or any other country played a part in the incident.

“Of course it would be massively concerning if it was the act of a foreign, hostile state,” he said, adding that investigators would follow all avenues of inquiry to try to understand how this happened. That’s something that will be considered.”

Despite his apparent hand-wringing, Hunt conceded that he’s “seen no evidence” to suggest that any foreign country was involved in the affair.

The Daily Mail was a bit more creative with its Russia-baiting. In a write-up of Hunt’s comments to the Sun, the British tabloid claimed that it had spoken with a “government source” who “thought [the leak] looked like something ‘out of Russia’s playbook.’”

Russia has become the West’s go-to scapegoat, with media outlets accusing Moscow of a litany of devious misdeeds, from hacking elections to training Beluga whales to spy on Scandinavia.

The threat posed by Russia may be a tad overstated, however. An alert system created by the EU to detect “Russian meddling,” for example, has yet to sound an alarm in the six months of its existence.

 

‘Gaffe Machine’ Biden forgets the narrative, says no Russian meddling happened on his watch

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Democratic frontrunner and former VP Joe Biden has been mocked for saying that no election interference happened on his watch. Some took his words as a denial of the establishment narrative about 2016 ‘Russian meddling’.

Risking an own goal against fellow politicians and the ‘intelligence community’, which accuse Russia of meddling in the 2016 US election to sow discord and help Donald Trump ascend to the presidency, Biden told CNN on Friday that no election interference happened on his watch, as he unloaded on both Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

While Putin’s trying to undo our elections, he’s actually undoing elections in Europe. Look at what’s happening in Hungary, look what’s happening in Poland, look what’s happening! You think that would happen on my watch or Barack’s watch? You can’t answer that, but I promise it wouldn’t have, and it didn’t,” Biden told host Chris Cuomo.

The counter-intelligence probe into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia that later grew into the full-blown Russiagate conspiracy theory, was launched by the FBI in July 2016, half a year before Biden and Obama left the White House. The events that were scrutinized by federal investigators and later by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team on their desperate hunt for a Trump-Russia connection, including the infamous Trump Tower meeting of June 2016, all happened on Biden’s watch. Cuomo, however, didn’t challenge the ex-VP on the timing discrepancies.

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The self-confessed Gaffe Machine’s words prompted derision as well as confusion on Twitter, with some asking if Biden has suddenly broken ranks with fellow Democrats in their belief there had been a Kremlin-led malicious campaign to undermine American democracy.

“So Biden’s admitting that Putin and Russia didn’t interfere with the election that happened during his watch?” one person wrote.

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Some went as far as urging Biden to retire from politics, calling his campaign a “disaster.”

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Biden emerged as the clear frontrunner in the Democratic Party primary race before the first debate, which saw the veteran politician’s lead dwindle. A poll last week showed Senator Kamala Harris (17 percent) only five percentage points behind Biden (22 percent).

 

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