SAUL SPADY

#BabyYodaTrump and the banned social media ad

Dec 4, 2019, 6:43 AM | Updated: Dec 5, 2019, 8:45 am
Twitter...
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Just yesterday, our humble radio show attempted to go viral the only way we know how – #BabyYodaTrump and $100 of advertising via Twitter. Our answer: Advertising rejection direct from Jack Dorsey and his kingdom of Twits.

This leads me to ask what exactly is so dangerous about this #BabyYodaTrump Tweet, and how did we get to this perplexing point that Twitter has decided it can’t be distributed to the American public via their advertising platform?

I can run a TV ad of #BabyYodaTrump. I can send mailers of #BabyYodaTrump. But I can’t distribute this image using Twitter advertising. Why?

Let me be clear in my opinion there is no bigger infringement of free speech in the state of Washington than the unfair and unbalanced restrictions on social media advertising sparked originally by our Attorney General via a 2018 lawsuit, and then enacted by our state Public Disclosure Commission, and lawmakers in Olympia. These successful attempts to demonize Facebook advertising for elected officials have created an unfair playing ground that gives Democrats in Olympia a sizable advantage in the 2020 elections.

In a state where only 21 percent of voters identify as a Republican, 41 percent as Democrats, and the reminder as independents, engaging voters in conversation is key to an upset. Over 70 percent of Washington state is on Facebook – only 40 percent of our state watches the Super Bowl in comparison. In 2018 with $50,000, a candidate could have reached every voter over Facebook – with mailers you’d reach a paltry 50,000 voters and their respective trash cans.

This brings us to the present day. Social media advertising in the United States has been placed underneath a serious lens, as Facebook has struggled with data, fake news and more since the shocking 2016 election results delivered the White House to Donald Trump and the Republicans.

Depending on your audience, they might celebrate the Trump team and their digital savvy ($70 million on Facebook advertising compared to Hillary’s $10 million and the Russians’ $3 million), or bemoan those aforementioned Russians for stealing the election so clearly from Hillary.

After the 2016 elections, our Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson took the act of selling advertising via social media so seriously, he sued Facebook and Google following reporting by Eli Sanders at The Stranger for improper reporting underneath a pre-2000 Washington law. This would lead to a subsequent Facebook and Google decision in January 2019 to prevent Washington state politicians buying advertising over their platform.

Or at least an attempt to prevent certain politicians from buying advertising. Ironically we can utilize Facebook’s own ad transparency tool to see all sorts of interesting data on our politicians and the Facebook advertising they buy with far more detail than the television, radio and mailers that are not only allowed, but encouraged by our Attorney General.

For example, our esteemed Land Commissioner Hilary Franz is currently running Facebook advertising right now. Or you can see just how much our Governor Jay Inslee spent on the platform during his presidential campaign in 2019.

Hilary Franz

You may be asking yourself why Hilary Franz can run Facebook advertising but an Ari Hoffman can not? The answer is simple: Hilary Franz is part of the Democratic establishment that rules our state so no one from the media to our Attorney General will cover the story.

Ari Hoffman on the other side was the most legitimate conservative candidate for Seattle City Council. We couldn’t possibly let a candidate with his dangerous ideas actually reach the voters in his district so they can make an informed decision.

I’ve been saying it all year and I’ll say it again. The clear attack on free speech via our Attorney General to empower his friends in Olympia is the biggest story we continue to ignore in 2019.

All you can ask now is why?

Correction, 12/5/19: A previous version of this article implied that Washington’s Office of the Attorney General was responsible for regulating campaign finance statewide. We have amended it to reflect that the state Public Disclosure Commission, as well as state lawmakers, are responsible for policy decisions related to campaign finance.

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#BabyYodaTrump and the banned social media ad