With its advertising business in crisis, Twitter eases ban on political ads


Over three years ago, Twitter banned political and issue-based advertising. This was amid widespread concerns that politicians could pay to target social media users with false or misleading information.

Now, under new owner Elon Musk, the company is easing that ban, which could result in much-needed Twitter sales growth at a time when Musk is urgently looking for new revenue streams. There is, but it comes with some risks. The policy change could expose users to threats the company previously said it may not be able to address, such as the proliferation of AI-created deep fakes and other sophisticated attempts to manipulate the platform. I have.

Tuesday, Twitter announced It relaxed the ban on problem advertising, stating that “cause-based advertising can foster public conversation about important topics.” Twitter added that it would “expand the political ads it allows in the coming weeks,” and pledged to share “more details as this work progresses.” The policy will be similar to that of other media outlets, including

Political advertising was not a significant source of revenue for the company. less than $3 million From a political ad from 2018, the year before the ban went into effect. But Musk needs all the income he can find.

Many brands have paused advertising on Twitter since Musk acquired the company in October. This is due to concerns that Mr. Musk’s approach to content moderation may result in ads appearing alongside hate speech and other inflammatory content. In November, when the company cut a lot of jobs to cut costs, Musk claimed Twitter is losing $4 million a day.

Musk has previously voiced his dislike of advertising in general, but among other controversial paid perks, he hastily offered a subscription option that pays for verified accounts, which could hurt Twitter’s finances. trying to improve the situation. But historically, ads accounted for nearly all of his Twitter revenue, and it could take a long time to replace it.

Re-welcoming paid advocacy and political advertising to platforms could mitigate some of the effects of the advertiser rebellion. New candidates may gain an advantage to compete against

But it can also lead to some of the unintended consequences that former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey warned about when he first announced the ad limit in 2019.

At the time, Dorsey said, Internet advertising is radically different from traditional forms of advertising because it enables new ways of targeting individuals with specific messages. It also opens up new opportunities for malicious attackers to use the technology to manipulate systems.

“Internet political advertising presents entirely new challenges to citizen discourse: machine learning-based optimization of messaging and micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deepfakes. Speed, sophistication, It’s all overwhelming scale,” said Dorsey.

Historically, Twitter’s approach to political advertising has been different from Facebook’s. Facebook has drawn widespread criticism for its policy of excluding political ads from fact checks. In effect, it allows politicians to lie in their ads. Changes to Twitter could create an environment similar to Facebook.

Dorsey has previously argued that misinformation and platform manipulation are not limited to social media and political messages, but putting money into the equation is a way to limit the impact of these harms. complicates the efforts of

Now, Twitter may be even less prepared to address the potential impact after laying off most of its staff, including those responsible for trust, safety and content management.

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