Spotify Will Suspend Political Ad Sales in 2020, Citing Need For More Robust Ways to Vet Content

Todd Spangler

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Spotify will not be trying to cash in on political ad spending during the 2020 election season.

The music and podcast streamer said Friday it will suspend sales of political ads next year, explaining that it doesn’t have the ability to “validate and review” such advertising.

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“Beginning in early 2020, Spotify will pause the selling of political advertising,” a company rep said in a statement to Variety. “This will include political advertising content in our ad-supported tier and in Spotify original and exclusive podcasts. At this point in time, we do not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our processes, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content. We will reassess this decision as we continue to evolve our capabilities.”

Spotify’s move to suspend political ads was first reported by AdAge. In the past, the streamer has run ads from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is campaigning for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and the Republican National Committee.

As the 2020 election heats up, the political-advertising policies of big internet platforms — and whether they will fact-check them — have been in the spotlight.

Facebook has been criticized for taking a hands-off approach, allowing political ads even if they include false or deliberately misleading claims (while banning ads that suggest voting is useless or that urge people not to vote). Meanwhile, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the platform was banning political advertising effective Nov. 22, arguing that it isn’t OK for campaigns or political groups to pay to target their messages to users.

Last month, Google announced that it would no longer allow microtargeting of ads by political affiliation or voting records across its portfolio of products — including YouTube — and emphasized that its ads policy prohibits any advertiser from making false statements.

The Spotify decision to halt political ads applies only to Spotify’s own ad sales. Ads embedded in third-party content — such as podcasts that are not owned by or exclusive to Spotify — may include political spots and will continue to be subject to the company’s broader content policies. That includes podcasts creators submit via Spotify for Podcasters and Anchor.

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