The decision comes amid social media companies scrambling to work out political advertisement policies

By Sean Neumann
December 27, 2019 03:25 PM

Spotify told advertising news website Ad Age on Friday that it will shut down political ads early next year.

More than 130 million people use the app with ads on and the list of Spotify’s current political advertisers includes the Republican National Committee and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

“At this point in time, we do not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our process, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content,” Spotify said in a statement to Ad Age. “We will reassess this decision as we continue to evolve our capabilities.”

While Spotify will do away with political ads in the upcoming election year, Facebook has come under fire for its political ad policy, which co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has described as a hands-off approach that doesn’t fact-check advertisements.

In October, Zuckerberg’s policy was scrutinized Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who grilled the Facebook CEO over what critics say is an overly relaxed policy.

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During a House Financial Services Committee hearing, a clip of which has gone viral, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez asked the Facebook leader if the company would work to remove political ads with false information.

“Do you see a potential problem here with a complete lack of fact-checking on political advertisements?” Ocasio-Cortez asked.

Zuckerberg responded, saying, “I think lying is bad. I think if you were to run an ad that had a lie that would be bad. That’s different from it being… from it… in our position the right thing to do to prevent, uhh, your contestants or people in an election from seeing that you had lied…”

“So, you won’t take down lies or you will take down lies?” Ocasio-Cortez cut in. “I think that’s just a pretty simple yes or no.”

The viral clip pointed to the lingering issue of unchecked political advertisements on social media — a headline issue in the 2016 election after investigators found Russia used social media ads to spread misinformation and sway voters leading up to President Trump’s victory.

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Ad Age reports a source told the publication political ads aren’t a big money-maker for Spotify.

While social media companies grapple with how to handle fact-checking political ads heading into an already heated election year, sites like Twitter have permanently shut down political ads on their pages.

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“We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced in October in a lengthy thread explaining the decision.

“This isn’t about free expression,” Dorsey said, warning that all internet communication will have to deal with the issue of fact checking information. “This is about paying for reach. And paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle. It’s worth stepping back in order to address.”

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