WASHINGTON – Earlier this week, Google announced that it will be changing its rules for political advertising, a move which would substantially limit the political speech of campaigns with limited resources. Reports have suggested that Facebook is considering adopting a similar policy.

Terry Schilling, executive director at American Principles Project, released the following statement in response to the news:

“By banning the ability for political candidates and issue campaigns to directly message voters, even using their own independently curated lists, Google is siding with the wealthiest politicians and most powerful interest groups while sidelining those with less influence. This is incredibly harmful to our democratic process.

“Microtargeting has become a central part of American politics, and it is certainly not unique to digital advertising — campaigns have been microtargeting voters for decades using direct mail, door knocking, and phone calls. But digital campaigning is a cheaper alternative that puts ordinary people on a level playing field with the wealthy and powerful. Those with limited resources need the efficiency of digital advertising to compete with the widely broadcast messages of elites who control nearly every major megaphone and have no problem spending massive amounts on campaign efforts.

“But now, Google plans to silence those who can’t afford to buy elections — making money the only thing that matters in politics. Google’s new policy would also be incredibly unfair: candidates wouldn’t even be able to target their own identified supporters who have opted into advertising.

“To its credit, Facebook has up to now stood largely in contrast to Google, Twitter, and the rest of the tech giants by publicly arguing in favor of free speech. Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, recently gave an impressive speech in Washington, D.C., where he called for tech companies to ‘err on the side of free expression.’ We encourage Facebook to continue its principled stand on this issue — and we hope that the reports suggesting it might adopt a similar policy to Google are nothing more than fake news.”

Disclaimer: American Principles Project does not receive any funding from Facebook, Twitter, or Google.

To schedule an interview with an APP policy expert, contact Paul Dupont at (o) 202-503-2010 or pdupont@americanprinciplesproject.org.

American Principles Project is a 501(c)(4) organization that works to advance human dignity through public policy.

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