"We do not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our processes … to validate and review this content responsibly."
Spotify is suspending the sale of political ads on its platform starting next year, the company told Billboard.
"Beginning in 2020, Spotify will stop selling political advertising," a Spotify spokesman said in an email statement. “This will include political advertising content in our ad-supported tier and original and exclusive Spotify podcasts. We do not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our processes, systems and tools to validate and review this content responsibly. We will reevaluate this decision as we continue to develop our capabilities. "
The decision applies only to Spotify in the US, as the service does not display political ads in other countries. The policy applies to office candidates, elected and appointed officials, political parties, political action committees, including SuperPACs and 501c4 organizations. It also prohibits any content that advocates for or against political entities, as well as for legislative or judicial outcomes, including voting initiatives, referendums and propositions. It does not cover ads embedded in third party content that run on the platform (ie podcasts), although such content remains subject to Spotify's broader content policies.
Recent political announcements on Spotify included announcements for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and the Republican National Committee.
In making the move, Spotify joins other digital giants, including Twitter and Google, which have banned or publicly restricted political advertising this year. In October, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that the social media service would ban all political advertising globally (however, ads "issued" around specific causes are still allowed). The following month, Google (which includes YouTube and Google Play Music) issued a more restrictive policy around political advertising around the world, revealing that Google would, among other things, limit the granularity of audience targeting. by political advertisers to just three general categories (age, gender, and geographic location) and extend their transparency efforts to announcements by US state candidates, voting measures, and political parties.
These recent ads came after a close scrutiny of online political advertising, with platforms such as Facebook and Google previously criticized for allowing blatantly false or misleading political ads. The call to ban these ads only increased in preparation for the highly polarized 2020 presidential election in the US.
Spotify is the first major music streaming service to announce a total ban on political advertising, although music-focused video sharing site TikTok also prohibits it. In October blog post, Blake Chandlee, vice president of global business solutions at TikTok, stated that "the nature of paid political ads is not something we believe is appropriate to the TikTok platform experience." Notably, Spotify's main competitor, Apple Music, does not offer an ad-supported free tier, making the ban on political ads on its service a non-issue.