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Spotify will 'pause' airing political ads in early 2020

You won’t hear political ads if you use the company’s free tier or listen to one of its podcasts.
Igor Bonifacic, @igorbonifacic
December 27, 2019
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Billy Steele / Engadget

Spotify, not Facebook, has become the latest tech company to rethink its approach to political ads. Starting early next year, the streaming giant will stop running political ads. Spotify told Ad Age it will "pause" political advertising across both its free ad-supported tier and during any original podcasts it makes. The move will apply only to the US, since it's the one market in which Spotify currently airs such advertisements. Third-party podcasts will still be able to embed political ads in their recordings as long as they adhere to Spotify's content policy.

"At this point in time, we do not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our process, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content," a spokesperson for Spotify said. "We will reassess this decision as we continue to evolve our capabilities."

Politicians and groups like Bernie Sanders and the Republican National Committee had used Spotify to share their message. Spotify didn't tell Ad Age how much it was making off of politicians, but it doesn't appear to be a significant source of revenue for the company.

Over the last couple of months, several tech companies have taken different approaches to address how manipulative political ads can be. Twitter, for instance, stopped running them altogether, while Google rolled out ad-targeting limits. Spotify's move puts Facebook in an even more awkward position than it was before. The social media giant is one of the few tech companies that has yet to put any restrictions on political advertisements -- though it was reportedly considering targeting restrictions as of last month. With Spotify's move, Facebook may now feel even more pressure to act.

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