Twitter tightens bans on political ads ahead of 2020 US election

WASHINGTON: Twitter Inc on Friday said its political advertising ban will include references to political candidates or legislation, and it will not allow ads that advocate for a certain outcome on social and political causes.
The popular social media site, which first announced its political ads ban last month, had not previously provided details on the new policy. On Friday, it said it will define political content as anything that references “a candidate, political party, elected or appointed government official, election, referendum, ballot measure, legislation, regulation, directive, or judicial outcome.” Twitter said it will use a combination of automated technology and human teams to enforce the new ad policies.
The move comes as campaigns for the November 2020 presidential election heat up amid growing pressure on social media companies to stop accepting ads that spread false information and could sway elections.
“We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,” Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said in announcing the ban.
Rival Facebook Inc, saying it did not want to stifle political speech, has refused calls from some politicians and others to follow Twitter’s lead, and said it would not vet political ads for misleading claims on its site.
The ban is expected to take effect on November 22.
Brad Parscale, campaign manager for US President Donald Trump’s re-election bid, in a statement called the move, “yet another attempt to silence conservatives, since Twitter knows President Trump has the most sophisticated online program ever known.” Bill Russo, deputy communications director for former vice-president Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, said in a statement that he appreciates Twitter will not allow “disproven smears” to appear in ads, but said social media companies had more work to do to ensure their sites are not rife with disinformation.
“We look forward to seeing how the policy works in practice and intend to hold Twitter to its word,” he said.
Twitter will allow companies and advocacy groups to run ads that promote awareness and discussion about social causes, such as environmental protection. But they will not be allowed to push for a political or legislative change, especially if they are advocating for something that benefits their business, Del Harvey, vice-president of trust and safety, said in a conference call on Friday.
Under the new policy for example, Sierra Club could still promote their causes, but they would not be able to single out politicians they support or target those they would like to see defeated in elections, or lobby for political outcomes. — Reuters