Pray Tell, Mr. Dorsey, What Is ‘Political’?


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced Wednesday that the company will halt all political advertising on its platform, both on behalf of political issues and individual candidates. “A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet,” said Dorsey. “Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people.”

The policy will not apply to voter-registration drives. Will it apply to Black Lives Matter or Greenpeace? Will Twitter bar Planned Parenthood from advertising its abortion services? How will Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has called for social media companies to censor political ads, react to the news that the National LGBTQ Task Force can no longer sponsor outreach to at-risk transgender youth?

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The old feminist adage, “The personal is political,” argues that seemingly private issues hold political import. Second-wave feminists such as Carol Hanish, who popularized the phrase, believed that demanding men partake in more housework and childcare constituted political activism. How will the Twitter brain trust treat a corporation that promotes women in the workplace?

They will have quite a few tweets to sift through.

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