In 2019, Twitter instituted a fairly strict ban on political and cause-based ads, effectively blocking politicians and organizations like PACs from running ads that prop up candidates, promote ballot measures or ask for donations. Now, the company is reversing that policy, announcing through the Twitter Safety account that it will relax those advertising rules.
We believe that cause-based advertising can facilitate public conversation around important topics. Today, we're relaxing our ads policy for cause-based ads in the US. We also plan to expand the political advertising we permit in the coming weeks.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 3, 2023
Previously, almost all political ads were banned, and cause-based ads that covered subjects like climate change or abortion were subject to various restrictions. The latter were barred from being marketed to custom audiences and age groups, for instance — and while raising awareness to topics was permitted, advocating support for specific legislation was not.
The announcement didn't go into detail about the ad rules, stating instead that the plan is bring Twitter more in line with the political advertising standards of "TV and other media outlets." Although it's not completely clear what that means, its worth noting that TV and broadcast markets that use the public airwaves are required to follow certain FCC rules regarding political advertising that Twitter may not be subject to.
Either way, the change could help Twitter make up for the advertisers who left in the weeks following Elon Musk's purchase of the platform, which saw brands like GM, Audi, General Mills and others pause advertising. As for Twitter, the social media company says that its making the policy change because it believes that "cause-based advertising can facilitate public conversation around important topics."