Twitter Allows US Political Candidates and Parties to Advertise in Policy Switch – On Tuesday, the social media firm that was previously recognized as Twitter announced a policy shift, permitting political advertising from candidates and political parties within the US. This marks a reversal of their previous stance and has sparked worries about the potential spread of misinformation and hate speech in the lead-up to the 2024 presidential election.
Prior to its acquisition by billionaire Elon Musk in October 2022, resulting in its rebranding as X, Twitter had enforced a global prohibition on political advertisements since 2019. However, in January, the platform reversed this prohibition and commenced the acceptance of “cause-based ads” within the United States.
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These ads are aimed at promoting awareness of topics like voter registration. The company expressed intentions to broaden the spectrum of permissible political ads on its platform. This decision to open the door for all types of political advertisements in the US could potentially bolster X’s revenue during a period when numerous advertisers have withdrawn or curtailed their investments due to concerns about their brand proximity to unsuitable content.
This development aligns with Musk’s efforts to position X as a digital arena for elections, exemplified by its role in hosting Ron DeSantis’s campaign declaration in May. In a blog post on Tuesday, X said it would grow its teams to combat content manipulation and “emerging threats.”
The company announced its intention to establish a worldwide center for advertising transparency. This center would enable users to view the political advertisements being promoted on X. Additionally, the company emphasized its commitment to maintaining the prohibition of political ads that disseminate inaccurate information or aim to erode trust in electoral processes.
This is in keeping with the company’s goal of “seeking to preserve free and open political discourse”, the blog post said. Following Musk’s acquisition, X has encountered inquiries regarding its preparedness for the upcoming US presidential election. This comes in the wake of substantial workforce reductions, including personnel from the trust and safety division.
In line with other social media enterprises, the platform has been under longstanding scrutiny from both researchers and lawmakers for what critics argue is inadequate action against misleading or false content during significant electoral events. These concerns escalated notably during the events of January 6, 2021, when former President Donald Trump extensively utilized Twitter to incite his followers, ultimately resulting in their storming of the US Capitol.
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Subsequent to this incident, Trump’s access to the platform was revoked; however, Musk independently revoked the ban in November 2022. Despite the reinstatement of his account privileges, Trump refrained from activity on Twitter until the past week. During this time, he shared an image of his mugshot after his surrender at a Georgia county jail, in connection with racketeering and conspiracy charges stemming from his endeavors to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election.
His formal reinstatement has ignited apprehension among various specialists in countering misinformation, and prior to this, defenders of civil rights had cautioned that Trump’s comeback, coupled with a relaxation of content oversight protocols, could potentially “open the floodgates of disinformation” and abuse.