February 3, 2023

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Twitter says it will reverse ban on political ads

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The social media platform tweeted that it would relax its advertising policy for ’cause-based ads’ in the US.

Twitter Inc will reverse its 2019 ban on political advertisements, Reuters news agency has reported, citing Twitter’s head of trust and safety, as the Elon Musk-owned company seeks to grow revenue.

The social media platform tweeted on Tuesday from its Twitter Safety account that it would relax its advertising policy for “cause-based ads” in the United States and align its advertisement policy with TV and other media outlets.

The change would bring Twitter’s policies closer to Meta Platform’s Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube, which allow political advertising, although the Chinese video app TikTok still bans political advertisements.

“We believe that cause-based advertising can facilitate public conversation around important topics,” the social media company tweeted.

Cause-based advertisements that will be allowed on Twitter include ads that educate or raise awareness of issues such as voter registration, climate change or government programmes like the Census, said Ella Irwin, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, in an email to Reuters.

Political advertising made up a sliver of Twitter’s overall revenue, accounting for less than $3m of total spending for the 2018 US midterm election.

Twitter banned political advertisements in 2019 after it and other social media companies faced widespread criticism for allowing election misinformation to spread. It also restricted advertisements related to social causes.

“We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,” tweeted Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s then-chief executive, in announcing the move.

Since Musk took over Twitter in late October, corporate advertisers have fled in response to the Tesla CEO laying off thousands of employees, reversing the permanent suspension of former US President Donald Trump and rushing a paid verification feature that resulted in scammers impersonating publicly listed companies on Twitter.

Last month, Musk defended his deep cost-cutting measures and said Twitter had been facing a “negative cash flow” of $3bn next year.

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