Twitter Announces New Rules for Political Advertisements

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The social media platform Twitter announced it will label political advertisements and require financial disclosures in a "transparency center" being set up in the coming weeks.

The company will use the FEC’s definition of political advertising to label any political ads so that users can easily recognize them, Twitter’s Bruce Falck wrote on its official blog.  This includes "ads that refer to a clearly identified candidate (or party associated with that candidate) for any elected office, are targeted to the relevant electorate for that federal candidate and are publicly distributed within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election."

Twitter will make these ads appear differently on the site.

"To make it clear when you are seeing or engaging with an electioneering ad, we will now require that electioneering advertisers identify their campaigns as such," Falck wrote in the statement. "We will also change the look and feel of these ads and include a visual political ad indicator."

Falck also thanked members of Congress who introduced the Honest Ads Act, a piece of legislation aimed at created transparency in online political advertising. Naming the senators and representatives who introduced the bill, which includes Sens. Mark Warner (D., Va.) and John McCain (R., Ariz.), Twitter promised to work with the government throughout the legislative process.

"We thank these members and others for their foresight in drawing attention to these issues as well as Chairman Hurd (R-TX) for holding a public hearing today on political advertising laws and regulations to facilitate a thoughtful discussion on disclosure policy," the statement reads. "We look forward to engaging with Members of Congress and other key stakeholders on these issues as the legislative process continues."

Twitter has been caught up in an ongoing controversy about political advertisements connected to Russian groups, which has put pressure on lawmakers to act.

Twitter’s new transparency center will have a section set up to inform users about political ads on the website. This will include:

  • Disclosure on total campaign ad spend by advertiser
  • Transparency about the identity of the organization funding the campaign
  • Targeting demographics, such as age, gender and geography
  • Historical data about all electioneering ad spending by advertiser

Falck wrote that Twitter has not decided to do anything regarding issue-based ads, which means nothing will change at this point for special interest groups using Twitter.

"There is currently no clear industry definition for issue-based ads but we will work with our peer companies, other industry leaders, policy makers, and ad partners to clearly define them quickly and integrate them into the new approach mentioned above," the statement reads.

Paul Crookston

Paul Crookston   Email Paul | Full Bio | RSS
Paul Crookston is a media analyst with the Washington Free Beacon. He was previously a Collegiate Network fellow at National Review. A 2016 graduate of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., he served as the managing editor of the Tartan campus newspaper. He is originally from Tampa, Fla., but he still roots for Dad’s Ohio teams. His Twitter handle is @P_Crookston. He can be reached at crookston@freebeacon.com.

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