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Top Republican McConnell says Twitter ban on political ads undermines free speech






WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday Twitter's argument behind its recent decision to ban political advertisements boiled down to the same "misunderstandings" that he said have been used to undermine free speech in the past.

Speaking on the floor of the Senate, McConnell said Twitter's logic that the reach of political messages should be earned and not bought through advertising, "quickly gives way to an arbitrary process of picking winners and losers in the competition of ideas."

Last month, Twitter announced the ad ban https://www.reuters.com/article/us-twitter-ads/twitter-bans-political-ads-facebooks-zuckerberg-defends-them-idUSKBN1X92IK that would be effective from November, winning praise from Democrats and scorn from Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Social media companies, including Twitter rival Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) face growing pressure to stop carrying ads that spread false information that could steer elections.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has defended his company's policy of running ads from politicians containing false or misleading claims, saying Facebook did not want to stifle political speech.

Brad Parscale, who is running Trump's re-election campaign, described Twitter's move as an "attempt to silence conservatives" and "a very dumb decision" for the company's shareholders.