Bora Miljanović for TV Prva: Twitter banned political advertising – what does it mean for Serbia? (VIDEO)

News - Nov 05, 2019

A guest of the last weekend’s Morning Show at the TV Prva channel was Borislav Miljanović, CEO of the Represent System with a PhD degree in communicology. Other guests included Miloš Vučević, vice-president of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and Novi Sad mayor, and Aleksandar Šapić, president of Novi Beograd Municipality and of the Serbian Patriotic Alliance. The Sunday morning topic was Twitter’s decision on Nov. 22 to ban political advertising, which has provoked controversies in the USA.

The first to reply to “Does this decision raise concern among Serbia’s politicians and are social media a powerful tool for communicating political messages?” was the Represent System founder and CEO, Bora Miljanović:

– In my opinion, this is a direct decision in the very finish of the presidential election campaign in the USA. Trump is a social media star. With the exception of Fox, no TV station in that country supports his policy, but his rating hasn’t dropped, because he is an excellent reality show – he is a reality show star that leverages social media in the best possible manner. We can see that through comments as well – Joe Biden’s chief of communications supports this decision reached by Twitter because it suits them. On the other hand, Trump’s team finds it inappropriate, while the Facebook founder is struggling to stay in the game. Since the beginning of 2019, democratic candidates have spent 32 million dollars on Facebook, Trump’s team 13 million dollars on political advertising only, whereas they all combined have spent mere 3 million on Twitter – said he.

Why has Twitter decided to cancel political advertising?

– They’ve realised that it’s not a lucrative source of income. In the campaign for the EU leaders, they had only 21 clients, in the entire Europe, for all parties and candidates. Twitter is definitely not a platform where political advertising is effective. Organic posts are a different story – people follow what politicians say. Political advertising on Twitter is not as efficient as on Facebook and, therefore, I think that Facebook will stick to it all the way through – explained Miljanović.

What’s the problem with social media?

More often than not, we perceive social media as an objective channel of communication. That’s not the case. Firstly, we choose whom to follow and are thus surrounded by people who think the same. To collect as many likes as possible, Facebook algorithms work in a way that we more often see posts of people who have the same opinion as we do than those presenting opposing views. In Serbia, up to 5 percent of social media users are on Twitter, which is not enough for any campaign to be effective on this platform. Represent cooperates with large global companies and their offices in Serbia, and we advise businesspeople not to go on Twitter at all. If you aim to tackle serious things, issues, solutions, Twitter in Serbia can hardly help you with that – said Miljanović openly.

Why is it the case?

– I think that it’s a consequence of a relatively divided public life regarding discussion in media in Serbia. There is no open public space where you can debate and exchange opinions, so everyone goes on Twitter.  Then we have a situation such as the recent fire in Mt. Stara planina: people don’t trust media that the situation is under control, so they check Twitter, where extremists are also present, and that is how adverse situations emerge. Twitter is not a media outlet; it is pub where you can hear all kinds of things – a competition in being the loudest and the most impressive one. Twitter and new media demand people who are impressive, jovial. If we rely on Twitter, there will be people who know how to create a show and attract huge attention. People don’t care about ideology anymore. The public demands something interesting. Trump is interesting because he is mad and unpredictable. Social media require interesting content that will lift up our spirits – concluded Borislav Miljanović.

For the entire interview, please click here:


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