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X, Formerly Twitter, Will Accept Political Advertising Again; Promises “Robust Screening”

X, formerly known as Twitter, said it will start accepting political ads (for the first time since 2019) as the rebranded social media platform owned by Elon Musk promised transparency and “robust screening processes.”

“Building on our commitment to free expression, we are also going to allow political advertising,” said a blog post today by X Safety called ‘Supporting people’s right to accurate and safe political discourse on X’ that outlined its plans.

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“Starting in the U.S., we’ll continue to apply specific policies to paid-for promoted political posts. This will include prohibiting the promotion of false or misleading content, including false or misleading information intended to undermine public confidence in an election, while seeking to preserve free and open political discourse. We’ll also provide a global advertising transparency center so that everyone can review political posts being promoted on X, in addition to robust screening processes to ensure only eligible groups and campaigns are able to advertise,” the post read.

It noted that “more than half a billion people from around the world gather on X to talk about their interests in real-time, and that includes elections. X enables people to directly engage on important topics with elected representatives, local or national leaders and fellow citizens.”

And it said that during elections, “X works to get in front of a range of tactics that people use to target the process. To do this we hire the right people, update our policies and evolve our product.”

Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey had banned political ads starting in November of 2019. “A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet,” he said that fall. “Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money.”

“While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions,” Dorsey added.

Musk completed a tortured takeover of Twitter, now X, a year later, in the fall of 2022. He slashed staff and saw some advertisers bail, worried about a lack of content moderation. Linda Yaccarino, former NBC Universal sales chief, joined as CEO in May. Twitter rebranded in July.

On the staffing front, the post today said X is expanding its safety and elections teams “to focus on combating manipulation, surfacing inauthentic accounts and closely monitoring the platform for emerging threats.”

It said its Civic Integrity Policy “provides an extra layer of protection that is applied for a limited period of time before and during an election.” It is also updating that policy “to make sure we strike the right balance between tackling the most harmful types of content—those that could intimidate or deceive people into surrendering their right to participate in a civic process—and not censoring political debate.”

The Civic Integrity policy will be aligned with an updated enforcement philosophy called Freedom of Speech, Not Reach. X will add publicly visible labels to posts identified as potentially violating the Civic Integrity Policy, letting people know when their reach has been restricted.

It said it is also continuing to scale a Community Notes feature that lets a vetted group of people add context to posts “when they see something that could be wrong, misleading or requires another point of view.”

“X shouldn’t determine the truthfulness of disputed information; rather, we should empower our users to express their opinions and openly debate during elections, in line with our commitment to protecting freedom of expression.”

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