Political Ads on Twitter Fall Under “New Transparency” Rules

Political parties, candidates and groups paying for advertising on Twitter will now have to disclose the behind-the-scenes processes that have built their campaign.

On Tuesday, Twitter announced that they would be increasing the transparency on all ads on Twitter. For every ad, the Advertising Transparency Center will show:

  • All ads that are currently running on Twitter, including Promoted-Only ads
  • How long ads have been running
  • Ad creative associated with those campaigns
  • Ads targeted to you, as well as personalized information on which ads you are eligible to receive based on targeting (link)

We can assume that the information will not show up appended to each and every promoted tweet but it will be easily accessible to users who want to investigate who is running the ad and why they’ve been targeted.

Political advertisements in particular will be given purple branding, and are distinguishable from run-of-the-mill causes and lobbyists by focusing on electioneering ads, that is to say, an ad that refers to a clearly identified candidate or party for any elected office. Twitter’s definition of electioneering is taken from the  FEC:

An “electioneering communication” is defined as any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication that refers to a clearly identified candidate for federal office; is publicly distributed within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary election; and is targeted to the relevant electorate.

It’s reasonable to assume that Twitter is stretching this definition to political candidates from other countries, as well.

These new advertising standards are prompted by the Honest Ads Act which was introduced by a bunch of Democrats as well as Republicans Sen. John McCain and Sen. Mike Coffman.

With the midterm elections being held on Tuesday 6 November 2018, that means the rules for political ads will come into play on approximately Thursday 7 September 2018.

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