Spotify has announced that it will stop political advertising at the beginning of 2020. The company also noted that the move will affect both its ad-supported tier as well as some of its original and exclusive podcasts. Spotify said that right now it doesn’t have the resources needed to vet these ads as effectively as possible. The music streaming service also added that it lacks the necessary level of “robustness in its processes” and in its “systems” to properly validate and review political ad content.
The company noted that it will continue to evolve its capabilities moving forward and reassess the decision in the future. It’s not clear how much money Spotify makes from ads since its main model focuses on the paid subscriptions. Besides, the streaming service doesn’t offer ads outside the United States. It is also not the most popular ad platform for politicians although the RNC and Bernie Sanders have both run ads there.
Spotify is the latest in a list of tech companies that have been struggling to decide how to handle political ads on their platforms. As we get closer to the 2020 election, many politicians are looking at social media as the ideal platform to create visibility for their messages.
However, so far social media companies like Facebook and Twitter have had trouble verifying these ads. In fact, Facebook was just recently accused of refusing to take down a Trump campaign video that was full of inaccuracies and false information. The social media giant said at the time that political ads are not subjected to third-party fact-checking and as such, it didn’t feel obligated to remove the video.
But other tech companies like Spotify have been taking more drastic measures. Twitter, for example, has placed a political advertising ban already. The ban doesn’t allow any kind of paid content referring to political parties, politicians, regulations, or legislation from appearing on the platform.
Google is also rolling out its own restrictions on political advertising on a global scale. The restrictions are expected to take full effect starting January 6th and will limit advertisers from targeting Google users based on political affiliation.
Nonetheless, geo-targeted political ads will still be allowed on Google. The search engine giant notes that political ads targeting demographics such as gender or age will be allowed. Google’s decisions may have far-reaching effects on political advertising online.
This is because the tech giant seems to be running one of the biggest shares of political ads in the market. As of 2018, the search giant had run more than $155 million in political ads in the US alone. Much of this revenue came from Mike Bloomberg, the former New York Mayor, who announced he will be running for the presidency in 2020 under the Democratic ticket.
Facebook, however, still remains one of the few tech companies yet to take action on the issue. Facebook hasn’t banned political ads on its platform and has, in fact, made it clear that it doesn’t intend to do any fact-checking on ads placed by politicians and their campaigns.