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Twitter India to inform political parties, leaders about ad-ban decision

Political ads account for only 2 percent of Twitter India’s annual revenue of $40 million , sources say.

November 01, 2019 / 11:56 AM IST

Twitter India will in the coming week personally communicate to political parties and their leaders its decision to stop political ads on its platform, sources told Moneycontrol.

“There is a standing relationship that Twitter has with political parties and politicians, which makes it important to convey them a significant decision,” a source said.

The move comes a day after the microblogging site CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted the global ban announcement, saying he believed that “political message reach should be earned, not bought”.

The decision coincides with increased scrutiny faced by social media companies for influencing elections through internet propaganda and fake and paid news. The ban comes into effect from November 22.

“Twitter will not want political parties and politicians to abandon the platform for not being able to advertise. Political commentary drives a significant amount of traffic on the platform,” another source said.

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Market intelligence platform, Statista, estimates the number of Twitter users in India at 34 million.

“While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions,” Dorsey said.

However, in India, Twitter doesn’t make much money from political campaigns despite political parties and their leaders enjoying a large following on the platform.

“It’s less than a couple of percent,” said the first source on the share of political advertisement in Twitter India’s revenue. A third source said that Twitter earned about $40 million annually from digital ads, two percent of which was from political ads.

“Most of it comes from large companies and startups. Individuals and political parties make for a very small percentage of its ad revenue,” the person said.

Political ads spike on social media platforms around elections. The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) spent Rs 20 crore on political ads, largely on Google properties and Facebook, during the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

The ruling BJP has 12 million followers, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi has 51 million of them. The Indian National Congress has 5.8 million followers, and its most prominent leader, Rahul Gandhi, has 11.1 million followers.

Questions sent to Twitter India did not elicit response.
Sunny Sen
first published: Nov 1, 2019 11:56 am

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