Twitter tightens ban on political ads

Twitter's political advertising ban will include references to election candidates or legislation.
Twitter's political advertising ban will include references to election candidates or legislation.

Twitter says its political advertising ban will include references to political candidates or legislation, and it will not allow ads that advocate for a certain outcome on social and political causes.

The popular social media site, which first announced its political ads ban last month, had not previously provided details on the new policy.

On Friday, it said it will define political content as anything that references "a candidate, political party, elected or appointed government official, election, referendum, ballot measure, legislation, regulation, directive, or judicial outcome".

Twitter said it will use a combination of automated technology and human teams to enforce the new ad policies.

The move comes as campaigns for the November 2020 presidential election heat up amid growing pressure on social media companies to stop accepting ads that spread false information and could sway elections.

"We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought," Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said in announcing the ban.

Rival Facebook, saying it did not want to stifle political speech, has refused calls from some politicians and others to follow Twitter's lead, and said it would not vet political ads for misleading claims on its site.

The ban is expected to take effect on November 22.

"We look forward to seeing how the policy works in practice and intend to hold Twitter to its word," he said.

Twitter will allow companies and advocacy groups to run ads that promote awareness and discussion about social causes, such as environmental protection.

But they will not be allowed to push for a political or legislative change, especially if they are advocating for something that benefits their business, Del Harvey, vice president of trust and safety, said in a conference call on Friday.

Ads intended to promote awareness about a cause would be allowed to target users at the state level or higher, but not by zip-code. And those advertisers will not be able to target people based on their political leanings, Twitter said.

Twitter said it sought to make its new rules as clear as possible. But other major tech companies, including Facebook and Alphabet Inc's Google, have had widely publicised struggles to moderate the vast amount of content uploaded to their sites.

News publishers that meet certain criteria will continue to be able to run ads on Twitter that reference political content, but they cannot advocate for or against a political topic.

Australian Associated Press