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Twitter Cancels Political Advertising

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Twitter’s Jack Dorsey tweeted that Twitter will no longer accept political advertising. He shamed Facebook for allowing false claims in political ads and with this move it could be implied that it challenges other social networks. The new policy will be in force on November 22, 2019.

Jack Dorsey stated his belief that political advertising is risky and challenges the ideal of civic discourse. His announcement described the reasons for this decisions and why he feels it’s the best decision.

According to a series of tweets by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey:

A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money.

Dorsey then called to attention the challenges inherent and imminent in political advertising:

“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.”

He then implied that Facebook’s decision to allow false claims in political ads:

“For instance, it‘s not credible for us to say: “We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, buuut if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad…well…they can say whatever they want! 😉”

Finally, he revealed that this decision affected not just candidate ads but also what he called “issue ads” in order to keep candidates from finding loopholes to circumvent the ban.

“We considered stopping only candidate ads, but issue ads present a way to circumvent. Additionally, it isn’t fair for everyone but candidates to buy ads for issues they want to push. So we’re stopping these too.”

The response was overwhelmingly positive, with nearly 50,000 likes and almost 20,000 retweets within minutes.

The SEO Community Responds

I asked members of the SEO community about their thoughts on this announcement.

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Mark Jackson (@MarkJackson)  Founder of Vizion Interactive said:

“It is imperative that we get a handle on this issue. I believe Twitter has taken the only appropriate course as there are too many work-arounds to try and police what is “within terms” or not.

Eliminating political ads is easy enough. Facebook should follow suit, but I doubt they will. Political advertising represents a ton of money and the targeting via Facebook is too much for political advertisers to refuse. “

David Kutcher of Confluent Forms (@confluentforms) observed:

“It’s clear that an unintended side effect of the Internet is that civilized discourse has suffered. One of the areas that has suffered the most is where politics are concerned, where people’s beliefs get challenged and tempers flare.

The last thing that is needed in this already hot environment is money, especially anonymous money, fanning the flames of hatred, division, misinformation and disinformation.”

Tony Wright (@tonynwright) CEO of WrightIMC answered:

“I don’t think it will have as much of an impact as if Facebook took away these ads. I don’t see Facebook doing that. And it would be difficult for local politicians if they did.

I would be interested to know how much Twitter made from political ads last year.I don’t think its a major source of their revenue at all.

I’m not sure if this is a risk at all for Twitter. More of a PR play – but one I think is a good move.”

We will have enough organic political discourse. I would love to think we could remove the paid discourse.”

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Twitter’s Announcement Raises Questions

Twitter’s announcement raised interesting questions about political advertising and influence. Should political influence be a commodity that can be bought and sold on social networks? What makes social media political advertising different from advertising in traditional television and news publications?

Read Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s announcement on Twitter
https://twitter.com/jack/status/1189634367296901120?s=20

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NEWS

Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

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