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Twitter Rolls Out New Political Ad Policies

by Countable | 10.25.17

What’s the story?

A bipartisan group of senators have introduced legislation, the Honest Ads Act, aimed at regulating internet and digital political advertisements similarly to television, radio, cable, and satellite ads. Lawyers from Twitter, Google and Facebook are expected to testify in front of Congress next week about Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election via their platforms.

In advance of that testimony, CNBC reports that Twitter is rolling out a new political ads policy to fall in line with the proposed legislation.

Why does it matter?

The Honest Ads Act would require several measures to create greater transparency in online political advertising:

  • Require digital platforms to maintain a public file of all political ads it sells beyond certain thresholds.

  • The file would include a digital copy of the ad, a description of the audience it targets, the number of views generated, the dates and times of publication, its cost, and the purchaser’s contract information.

  • Require online platforms to make reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities aren’t buying political ads to influence American voters.

The new Twitter policy is very similar, and will apply to all ads "used to promote a specific candidate for elected office or affiliated party posted within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election. Electioneering ads can also include any ad clearly promoting a political candidate at any time."

All relevant ads will be:

  • Clearly labeled as a political ad on every tweet, with information of who the sponsor is.

  • Included in a new ‘transparency center’, showing all political ads currently on the platform with who funded each campaign, how much they spent on this specific campaign, and how much they spent on the platform in total. There will be information on the criteria used to place the ad, such as age, gender and geography.

Twitter will also limit which criteria can be used to target people and will introduce what they are calling a "stronger" penalty on those who do not abide by the new rules, though they have provided no details about the nature of the new standards or penalties.

The new changes will initially only be enforced in the United States, but will roll out globally at a currently unspecified date in the future.

What do you think?

Is Twitter taking a positive and proactive step in addressing possible political manipulation of voters, whether by foreign or domestic groups, on their platform? Or are they succumbing to pressure, which is simply a first step towards online censorship of speech?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Pixabay / Creative Commons)

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(34)
  • Steve
    10/25/2017
    ···

    What about Fox 'News'? Pure opinion under false pretense.

    Like (10)
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  • Christine
    10/25/2017
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    Finally! Twitter takes responsible action! Now facebook (Mr. Zuckerberg) & Google MUST do the same and any and all present & future platforms that can be exploited as well.

    Like (8)
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  • IamAdlr
    10/25/2017
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    I am in favor of everything in this bill related to transparency. I’d like more information on this part “Twitter will also limit which criteria can be used to target people” Republican/Democrats might try to limit information to people based on politics. Potentially shady.

    Like (6)
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  • RadicalModerate
    10/26/2017
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    I think it's flawed. Basically all adds are lies, and anyone who pays for an add has an agenda. Once you acknowledge that fact, you are better positioned to make quality decisions that will improve your community.

    Like (5)
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  • Gina
    10/25/2017
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    Why doesn't Twitter ban President Trump, who uses Twitter has his personal platform to cyber bully anybody who speaks against him. If it was anybody else, they would be banned. Shame on you Twitter!!! Shame on you!

    Like (4)
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  • Laura
    10/25/2017
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    Bring back the Truth in Advertising Act that Reagan rescinded!

    Like (3)
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  • Bluewitsend
    10/25/2017
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    I support honest ads. Political ads should be honest and transparent with who is sponsoring them. We cannot continue the debacle of the last election.

    Like (3)
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  • Shane
    10/25/2017
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    I support the honest ads act.

    Like (3)
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  • Lawrence
    10/26/2017
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    What we need is legislation.

    Like (2)
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  • James
    10/26/2017
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    Better late than never. Now what do we do about the fact that our current administration was the pick of a foreign power?

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  • Sosnow
    10/25/2017
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    I think they are being proactive and realize their platform is relevant in today’s society. By keeping the ads and records they can monitor posts while also providing evidence should the need arrive. If you don’t like it, don’t use Twitter anymore.

    Like (2)
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  • KansasTamale
    10/25/2017
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    YES!! About time. All media should have to make the ads on their feed be verified BEFORE it is sent into the stratosphere. Too bad this can’t also regulate lies that Trump tweets all the time. Individual freedom of speech can be our downfall if people believe the fabrications that come in Trump Tweets.

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  • Mark
    10/26/2017
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    On the onset of reading this, I was thinking this was a good thing. But after reading through the entirety of it. I feel this is a step in the direction of how I view your content, not so much about transparency. In closing this is a dangerous step back for everyone

    Like (1)
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  • Ticktock
    10/25/2017
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    All media should have taken this step. TV is regulated for a reason and the internet needs similar rules and they should be rigorously enforced. As for freedom of speech, that right comes with a load of responsibility and today there is a lot of use of free speech but very little responsibility regarding it’s use.

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  • Lawrence
    10/26/2017
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    It’s a start.

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  • Eva
    10/26/2017
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    It's useful for the consumer to see who paid for the political propaganda. Keeping a history of who was targeted by what group at what time creates a way to trace if foreign governments or billionaires were involved in paying for the propaganda.

    Like (1)
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  • ManfromNebraska
    10/26/2017
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    We need to know who is trying to influence our vote. Foreign countries should not be able to buy ads to try to sway our elections. One problem I see would be filtering money to American organizations through the back door.

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  • Norm
    10/26/2017
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    I suppose this should be a big deal you know and I’m still appreciative. But I’m not impressed because making money came ahead of ethics, honesty, and protecting the public.This also especially goes to Facebook who doesn’t see anything wrong with social engineering of United States citizens or other folks globally what they read about in social media.

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  • DEGUp
    10/26/2017
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    No, no, no. The government must keep hands off speech, true or false.

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  • Carole
    10/25/2017
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    I support this for adds. It should not impact the right of free speech for individuals within the guidelines for threats to others.

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