Twitter said Monday it plans to lift its ban on political ads in the “coming weeks.” The company originally enforced the ban in 2019. At the time, it said “the reach of political posts should be earned, not bought.” Twitter followed a different path from other social networks such as Facebook and Instagram, which allowed for political advertising.
The social network’s announcement comes as advertisers are slashing spending on the platform. In November, the company’s owner, Elon Musk, blamed “activist groups” for pressuring advertisers to suspend ads on Twitter. Musk also fell out with Apple when the company briefly interrupted ads on the platform, accusing the iPhone maker of hating “free speech in America.”
In addition, Twitter said it is relaxing its standards for cause-based advertising — advertising related to topics such as social equality and environmental change — in the US. The company hasn’t really given details on the terms it’s changing, but it did mention it on the advertising policy page that cause-based advertising must be geographically restricted.
“Advertisers whose charity-based ads are targeted only within the United States are exempt from the aforementioned restrictions,” it said.
Historically, Twitter allowed cause-based advertising with the stipulation that advertisers could not apply specific targeting filters to those campaigns. But Musk’s management team is going to change that. As for having guardrails around these types of ads, Twitter said it will “first make sure our approach to reviewing and approving content protects people.”
One of Musk’s priorities after acquiring Twitter was to increase the company’s revenue. Although it has launched a more expensive Twitter Blue subscription service that costs $8 per month, the company still has to rely heavily on ad revenue. Reports suggest that since Tesla’s CEO’s Twitter ownership began, many top advertisers left the platform and the company has lowered its internal revenue forecasts.
As the US gears up for elections in 2024, political entities will spend whatever money they can to sway voters in their favor. It’s not clear whether Twitter will generate much revenue by allowing political ads. In 2019, Twitter’s then CFO, Ned Segal, said political ads accounted for $3 million during the 2018 US midterms.
Like previous policy announcements under Musk, this change is sparse in detail and there are hardly any details about how it will shape advertising and disinformation related to it on Twitter. Musk had also previously promised to conduct polls make major policy changesbut there was no such poll before the ban on political advertisements was reversed.
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