US News

Twitter to Remove Ban on Political Ads ‘In the Coming Weeks’

Political ads will once again be a source of revenue for Twitter following the social media platform’s Jan. 3 announcement that it would be loosening its restrictions on cause-based and political advertising.

“We believe that cause-based advertising can facilitate public conversation around important topics,” Twitter noted Tuesday in a statement. “Today, we’re relaxing our ads policy for cause-based ads in the US. We also plan to expand the political advertising we permit in the coming weeks.”

“Moving forward, we will align our advertising policy with that of TV and other media outlets,” the company continued. “As with all policy changes, we will first ensure that our approach to reviewing and approving content protects people on Twitter. We’ll share more details as this work progresses.”

Current Policy

Currently, Twitter globally prohibits the paid promotion of all political content on its platform. The policy was implemented in October 2019 amid calls for increased regulation of political ads on social media following claims of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions,” Twitter’s then-CEO Jack Dorsey said in announcing the policy.

Holding that it would be difficult to prevent the spread of “misleading” information while also allowing candidates to say what they wish, he added, “[I]t’s not credible for us to say: ‘We’re working hard to stop people from gaming our systems to spread misleading info, but if someone pays us to target and force people to see their political ad … well … they can say whatever they want!’”

Policing Political Speech

Last month, it was revealed through the Elon Musk-endorsed “Twitter Files”—an ongoing exposé of the internal workings at the platform—that Twitter employees had created secret blacklists of users to target for “visibility filtering,” limiting other users’ ability to view their content organically.

“We control visibility quite a bit,” a Twitter engineer told Bari Weiss, one of the reporters covering the Twitter Files. “And we control the amplification of your content quite a bit. And normal people do not know how much we do.”

Further, according to new Twitter CEO Musk, many of those filtered users were political candidates seeking elected office.

Although Musk did not name names, according to Ballotpedia, elected officials known to have had their Twitter accounts limited or suspended while in office include Reps. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-Ga.), Barry Moore (R-Ala.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Texas Rep. Briscoe Caine (R-Deerpark), and former President Donald Trump.

Notably, all are Republicans.

Other accounts revealed to have been targeted for visibility filtering include those of student conservative group TurningPoint USA founder Charlie Kirk, conservative commentator Dan Bongino, the popular Libs Of TikTok account, and others who expressed concerns regarding the COVID-19 vaccines.

A New Era

Since taking over Twitter, Musk has implemented many changes at the company, particularly relating to how the platform monitors speech.

For instance, in November, Twitter stopped enforcing its COVID-19 Misleading Information policy, under which many users were suspended for sharing content that did not align with the government’s guidance on COVID.

“New Twitter policy is freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach,” Musk announced on Nov. 18. “Negative/hate tweets will be max deboosted & demonetized, so no ads or other revenue to Twitter. You won’t find the tweet unless you specifically seek it out, which is no different from rest of Internet.”

More recently, on Dec. 28, Musk announced a new policy for science-related speech, stating, “New Twitter policy is to follow the science, which necessarily includes reasoned questioning of the science.”

In a follow-up tweet, he added, “Anyone who says that questioning them is questioning science itself cannot be regarded as a scientist.”

The comment was in reference to Dr. Anthony Fauci’s controversial statement during the pandemic that attacks on him were “attacks on science.”

Musk did not elaborate on what the repercussions of not “following the science” would be.

Earlier last month, Musk faced criticism for suspending the accounts of journalists who allegedly doxxed his location in real time. Those accounts were reinstated, however, after a poll showed that most users felt it was the right thing to do.

“The people have spoken,” the billionaire said. “Accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now.”

Musk has openly admitted his concern that he might be the target of an assassination attempt.

“Frankly the risk of something bad happening or literally even being shot is quite significant,” he said in December.

“It’s not that hard to kill me if somebody wanted to, so hopefully they don’t,” he added. “There’s definitely some risk there.”

Samantha Flom
Samantha Flom is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering U.S. politics and news. A graduate of Syracuse University, she has a background in journalism and nonprofit communications.
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