X Lifts Ban on Paid Political Ads: What It Means for the Social Network

Twitter Lifts Ban on Paid Political Ads, Following in the Footsteps of New CEO Elon Musk

This week, Twitter confirmed it’s lifting its ban on paid political ads — a move it committed to earlier this year, shortly after Elon Musk took over the social network previously known as Twitter. The company had originally banned such ads back in 2019 under then-CEO Jack Dorsey’s management, claiming at the time that “political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

The Definition and Scope of the Ban

The banned content included any references to candidates, political parties, elected or appointed government officials, elections, referendums, ballot measures, legislation, regulations, directives, or judicial outcomes, as defined by the company.

Furthermore, a wide range of content, including ads appealing for votes, solicitations of financial support, and advocacy for or against any of the above-mentioned types of political content, was also prohibited.

Twitter’s Announcement and Motivations

In an announcement on Tuesday, the company, now known as X, stated that it would allow political advertising as part of its commitment to free expression. However, the move is also seen as a means for X to generate more ad revenue, given the significant drop in its U.S. ad sales.

Policies and Restrictions

X will continue to enforce specific policies for paid political ads in the U.S., targeting false or misleading content intended to undermine public confidence in an election. It remains to be seen how X will take action against viral conspiracies.

The company is also introducing a global advertising transparency center, similar to one already offered by Meta, granting the public access to review political posts being promoted on X’s platform. Additionally, X promises a thorough screening process to ensure only eligible groups and campaigns can advertise, without providing further details.

Protecting Discourse and Public Debate

The announcement mentions other measures to protect platform discourse, such as the Civic Integrity Policy, which offers extra safeguards before and during elections. However, X intends to update this policy to focus only on harmful content like voter intimidation or deception, striking a balance between protection and preserving public debate.

X also plans to implement publicly visible labels on posts that potentially violate the Civic Integrity Policy, notifying users when their reach has been restricted.

Expansion and Fact-Checking

Elon Musk had previously stated his intention to expand political advertising, aligning Twitter’s policy with other media outlets. This expansion comes after relaxing the policy for cause-based ads in the U.S. Furthermore, Twitter mentions its crowd-sourced fact-checking feature, Community Notes, which is now accessible globally in 44 countries and open-source. The inclusion of Community Notes on all promoted posts, including paid political ads, is an additional step towards promoting accuracy and informed discussions.

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