There are some famous natural experiments out there, such as the Dutch Hunger Winter study or the Oregon Health Insurance study. Or how about that nighttime satellite photo of North and South Korea showing the benefits of democratic capitalism vs. totalitarian communism. That may be the most famous and instructive natural experiment of all.
Silicon Valley may be giving us another enlightening comparison. Twitter is banning all political advertising, while Facebook will continue to run such ads — even those containing false or misleading claims. We should get a first read on the results on either the evening of Nov. 3 or morning of Nov.4, 2020.
Actually, Team Trump seems ready to draw its conclusion right now: Twitter is making a mistake. Campaign manager Brad Parscale called the move “yet another attempt to silence conservatives, since Twitter knows President Trump has the most sophisticated online program ever known.”
Now the smart money among tech journalists – who by and large seem to love the new Twitter policy – is that Facebook will likely soon follow suit. But I doubt it. As The New York Times recently reported in “Trump Campaign Floods Web With Ads, Raking In Cash as Democrats Struggle,” more than any other platform, “Facebook is the focus for digital campaign spending, and it is in many ways even friendlier turf for Mr. Trump’s campaign than in 2016.”