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Twitter Banning Political Adverts –

Jack Dorsey the CEO of Twitter announced last month that the platform would be banning all political advertising, not just in the US but to all regions. This was met with praise, Twitter was lambasted during the last Presidential Election and with a General Election taking place next month and the Presidential Election next year then it seems a smart time to do so. Twitter is the first of the social media ‘big guns’ to implement the ban, Mark Zuckerberg on the other hand has defended his decision not to block all political ads due to ‘free expression’ as he feels that people should make their own choice to what is true and what is a porky. There are question marks however as to how this will actually work.

First things first Twitter will prohibit the promotion of political content which is defined as ‘content that references a candidate, political party, elected or appointed government official, election, referendum, ballot measure, legislation, regulation, directive, or judicial outcome. Ads that contain references to political content, including appeals for votes, solicitations of financial support, and advocacy for or against any of the above-listed types of political content, are prohibited under this policy. We also do not allow ads of any type by candidates, political parties, or elected or appointed government officials’. 

The above seems all well and good but where does one stand when looking activism by non affiliated groups? Well for this aspect Twitter has launched a new advertisement category called ‘Cause-based advertising’. For this aspect Twitter will restrict the promotion of advertisements that ‘educate, raise awareness, and/or call for people to take action in connection with civic engagement, economic growth, environmental stewardship, or social equity causes’. Essentially these ads cannot be used todrive political, judicial, legislative, or regulatory outcomes’.

Twitter is limiting the targeting capacity of ads such as the above with Geo-targeting, which is where ads may only happen at state or regional level but not at postcode or zip code levels. Also keyword and interest targeting has been introduced ‘may not include terms associated with political content, prohibited advertisers, or political leanings or affiliations’, such as conservative, liberal etc.

There is a lot to take in there and there is no doubt that there will be some leaks which Twitter will need to plug in due course, however this is very much a positive step that has been taken and the fact that Dorsey has taken a stand is a welcome relief and an example set to other platforms.

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