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Twitter initiates its new campaign ad policy

Some of the platform's changes to prepare for the midterm elections go into effect.
David Lumb, @OutOnALumb
May 24, 2018
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Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Social media became a battleground in the 2016 election with bot accounts pushing fake news and tons of advertising trying to influence US voters. In the lead-up to the 2018 midterms, platforms have announced new rules to improve transparency. Today, just as Facebook implemented its own political advertising disclosures, Twitter has adopted changes to how it handles campaign advertisements to vet buyers.

The new advertising policies, introduced back in fall, require anyone wanting to run an ad to certify that they live in the US, as the platform now prohibits foreign nationals from targeting US residents with political ads. Candidates and committees must provide their FEC number, while groups unregistered with the election commission will have to validate their identities through a notarized document. Then, Twitter will send letters -- via snail mail -- to confirm identities and locations of the aspiring advertisers.

Twitter handles used to campaign with political advertising have more rigid appearance requirements. The account's profile photo, header photo and website must all be consistent with their online presence, and the site linked in their bio needs working contact information.

The disclaimers identifying political campaign ads, who paid for them and if they were authorized by particular candidates will be coming in the near future. So too will the election labels that will soon be attached to accounts for candidates running for state Governor, the Senate or House of Representatives that Twitter announced yesterday.

Twitter will begin enforcing this policy later in the summer, according to a blog post, and from then on, only certified advertisers will be able to run political ads. (The platform has set up a site for aspiring ad buyers to get certified.) The platform will also bring a transparency center online in the upcoming season to detail spending and demographics targeted by political ads. Issue advertisements, on the other hand, will be subject to a different upcoming policy.

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