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Twitter relaxes ban on political ads


Twitter said Tuesday it was relaxing its ban on political and issue-based ads, reversing the company’s longstanding approach to paid political speech.

The policy change, which comes as major advertisers shun the social media platform, will allow candidates and advocacy groups to spend money promoting themselves and their causes on the service.

“We believe cause-based advertising can facilitate public conversation around important topics. Today, we’re relaxing our advertising policy for cause-based ads in the US. We plan to expand the political ads we allow in the coming weeks,” he tweeted he said.

In a second tweet, it was announced that the company would first take an approach that “reserves the people at Twitter to review and approve content.”

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Twitter has long taken a principled stance against political ads. When then-CEO Jack Dorsey announced the political ad bans in 2019, he said it was because he strongly believed that political messaging “should be earned, not bought.” The language was later posted on the company’s website and was still there as of Tuesday afternoon.

The sudden turnaround was typical of the tumultuous and chaotic manner in which Twitter was run under its new owner, billionaire Elon Musk. The company announced the change and promised to “share more details” as things progress. No word on why Twitter is making the changes or how far-reaching the changes will be.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

After purchasing the company in late October, Musk began a whirlwind of changes. He said recently that the state in 2022 is down from 7,500 to just over 2,000. That means about 75 percent of workers have been fired, fired or resigned. He has rolled back policies aimed at curbing misinformation about Covid and ordered select journalists to look into Twitter documents, including access to Twitter’s internal systems – prompting some employees to protest that this would involve breaking the law. agreement. It botched the company’s first major product launch — a paid blue checkmark — and had to shut it down.

While Twitter has always been a marginal player in political advertising compared to Google or Facebook, Tuesday’s move will allow political groups and figures to promote themselves in upcoming election contests. Some high-profile Republicans According to data analyzed by The Washington Post, Musk has gained followers on Twitter in the months leading up to his inauguration.

Politicians and advocacy groups have previously complained that it is unfair to restrict all such ads because some contain misinformation. Facebook went in the opposite direction ahead of the 2020 election, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg arguing that it was not the company’s responsibility to vet political ads and that such ads would be allowed to run on the service.

Political ads were also relatively unimportant to Twitter’s overall business. At the time of the ad ban, the company’s chief financial officer said political ads brought in about $3 million — a tiny fraction of the platform’s multibillion-dollar ad business.

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But a number of advertisers have halted spending on the platform since Musk’s takeover, citing concerns about the platform’s ownership, content seen on the site and massive layoffs. Musk, who bought the company for $44 billion, also owes about $1 billion in interest every year.

Shortly after Musk took office, a flood of racist and anti-Semitic tweets appeared on the social media platform.

Some digital strategists welcomed Tuesday’s policy change, though it’s too early to tell how big a player Twitter will be in political advertising in 2024. Campaigns are navigating an increasingly fragmented digital advertising environment as voters spend more time on a wider variety of social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.

But other major social networks, including TikTok, continue to have broad bans on political advertising.

“Obviously it’s good to have more options,” said Eric Wilson, a Republican digital strategist. He said there will be a “learning curve” for campaigns returning to Twitter, as they have out-of-date data on the platform’s effectiveness and must manage any changes Twitter makes to its advertising tools.

However, he said political campaigns will probably spend on the platform as long as it continues to be used by journalists.

“We know that voters are not as active on Twitter as they are on places like Facebook and Instagram,” he said. “But it remains important for shaping political narratives.”

Cat Zakrzewski contributed to this report.

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