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Twitter specifies how it will ban political ads but it will allow campaigns on 'social causes'

The social media giant shared details of its poltical ad ban.

Image: Richard Drew via PA

TWITTER SAYS ITS new ban on political ads will cover appeals for votes, solicitations for campaign contributions and any political content.

Twitter is defining political content to include any ad that references a candidate, political party, government official, ballot measure, or legislative or judicial outcome.

The ban also applies to all ads — even non-political ones — from candidates, political parties and elected or appointed government officials.

however, Twitter is allowing ads related to social causes such as climate change, gun control and abortion. People and groups running such ads won’t be able to target those ads down to a user’s location or use political categories such as “conservative” or “liberal.” Rather, targeting must be kept broad, such as based on a user’s state or province.

News organisations will be exempt so they can promote stories that cover political issues.

Twitter announced its ban on political ads last month, but didn’t release details until today. The policy is in stark contrast to Facebook’s approach of allowing political ads, even if they contain false information.

Facebook has said it wants to provide politicians with a “level playing field” for communication and not intervene when they speak, regardless of what they’re saying.
Drew Margolin, a Cornell University communications professor who studies social networks, said Twitter’s broad ban is a reflection that “vetting is not realistic and is potentially unfair”.

He said a TV network might be in a position to vet all political ads, but Twitter and Facebook cannot easily do so. While their reliance on automated systems makes online ads easier and cheaper to run, Margolin said it also makes them an “attractive target” for spreading misinformation.

Response to Twitter’s ban has been strong and mixed, with critics questioning the company’s ability to enforce the new policy given its poor history banning hate speech and abuse from its service.

The company acknowledges it will make mistakes but says it’s better to start addressing the issue now rather than wait until all the kinks are worked out.

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Associated Press

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