New Rules for Political Ads on Twitter Go into Effect Sept. 30th

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

As the U.S. midterm elections get closer, online marketers may have noticed many new rules going into effect that change the ways ads can be used. Facebook and Google have been the most public about the changes they were making and required advertisers who were running political ads to be registered months ago. A similar transparency requirement is coming to political ads on Twitter at the end of September.

Facebook, Google and Twitter have made several changes to their platforms to prevent them from being misused by bad actors. Part of these reforms have been based on a greater focus on transparency. This has meant making it easier for people to see the source of political ads shown to them.

“Today we are announcing the next phase of our efforts to provide increased transparency for advertising on Twitter, with the launch of a new US-specific Issue Ads Policy and certification process,” Twitter explained in a recent blog post.

Twitter’s new policy will be enforced for ads that refer to an election or a clearly identified candidate, or ads that advocate for legislative issues of national importance.

As examples of “legislative issues of national importance” Twitter noted topics such as “abortion, civil rights, climate change, guns, healthcare, immigration, national security, social security, taxes, and trade.”

While this list seems to cover all the current hot-button issues, the policy is flexible enough to change with the times. As Twitter explained in their post, “These are the top-level issues we are considering under this policy, and we expect this list to evolve over time.”

Under the new policy, Twitter has established a certification process that verifies an advertiser’s identity and location within the US. Advertisers that promote ads that fall under the policy must apply for certification and meet specific eligibility requirements. Advertisers can apply for certification here. The policy goes into effect on the 30th, so advertisers only have one month to get their certification in order.

Similar to political campaigning ads, issue ads will be specifically labeled as such within the timeline so that people will be able to clearly see who is promoting the ads and easily access more information.

Twitter is allowing leeway for news organizations though it’s a mixed bag. For example, writing articles about a topic are fine for Twitter ads so long as they aren’t taking a side (though that is something people can debate about any article). And publishers who wish to run ads about topics that other advertisers would need certification for will need to apply for an exemption. So you’re either applying for registration or applying for an exemption.

As they company explained in the blog post, “The intention of this policy is to provide the public with greater transparency into ads that seek to influence people’s stance on issues that may influence election outcomes. We don’t believe that news organizations running ads on Twitter that report on these issues, rather than advocate for or against them, should be subject to this policy.”

While a little late to the party, Twitter’s policy is similar to that of Google and Facebook when it comes to political ads. This is good because anyone who has already gone through the process once should have the things they need for registration handy. That said, advertisers should be on the watch for any potential changes to these transparency policies. This is the first year they’ve been implemented and there may still be some kinks to work out.

For more recent news about changes to online advertising, read this article about a change related to Google’s new responsive ads.

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