Facebook Considers Political Ad Ban; Amazon Tells Employees To Delete TikTok (And Then Says Never Mind)

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Playing Politics

Facebook is considering nixing political advertising this year in the leadup to the 2020 US presidential election, Bloomberg reports. That decision would mark a major change for Facebook, since CEO Mark Zuckerberg insists on the importance of enabling political discourse and outreach on the platform, including in ads. But if Facebook is looking for a respite from the pummeling it’s been receiving from Democrats – ain’t gonna happen. Data-driven advertising pundits on the political left have tried to get Facebook to take a harder line on organic content, such as sham news publishers and misinformation posted by political accounts, rather than just removing paid media capabilities. A political ad ban could actually undercut voter registration and get-out-the-vote operations, while controversial content and shady organic tactics – see coordinated news-sharing across a network of accounts – would still be able to operate.

A TikToking Time Bomb

TikTok’s national security drama is dragging on. In a memo sent on Friday, Amazon asked its employees to delete the app from their phones in order to retain access to Amazon email on their mobile devices, citing unspecified security risks, The Wall Street Journal reports. But an Amazon spokesperson says that the memo was sent in error and there is “no change” in company policy on TikTok. Be that as it may, the memo was clearly written and in the hopper, even if someone over at Amazon had a twitchy trigger finger. Perhaps the memo was drafted because Amazon is getting its ducks in a row for an eventual ban. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday the administration is considering a ban of Chinese social media apps, which he claimed threaten national security. Amazon did not discuss the decision with TikTok, and TikTok said in a statement that it does not understand the decision. “We welcome a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have and enable their team to continue participating in our community,” a spokesperson said.

Learn Your Letters

As publishers increasingly lean on subscription revenue, newsletter referrals have emerged as a cost-effective way to acquire subscribers. For one thing, a referral program, with readers earning rewards to promote the newsletter, creates more valuable readers. People in the Hustle’s referral program, for example, have multiple times higher lifetime values, while people who come via the referral program have higher open rates, said the tech and business newsletter’s president, Adam Ryan. It’s about playing the long game, LiveIntent SVP of global marketing Kerel Cooper tells Digiday. Growing your subscription lists over the short term leads to greater monetization, Cooper says. But the clock is ticking on third-party cookies – which is why building a first-party database is what will position publishers for success.

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