Twitter tightens rules in EU
February 21, 2019 | Expert Insights
Twitter follows the moves of Facebook and Google by changing its political advertisement policy due to the upcoming European election.
The EU in late January warned tech companies to intensify efforts in the fight against fabrication of facts on their platforms. Facebook, Twitter and Google have been criticized for not doing enough to prevent the misuse of their platforms by unethical persons trying to sway elections around the world.
In a bid to differentiate between journalism and political advocacy, following the events of the 2016 Presidential election in the U.S , the company said that it would come up with a policy that would lead to more accountability.
“Transparency leads to greater accountability and it’s something our news partners have encouraged, which is why we’re moving in this direction for all advertising that involves political content,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of global news partnerships, said in an email.
Facebook has announced that their renewed political ad policy will come into effect on February 21 in Europe, while Google launched its policy on February 14.
Twitter is tightening up rules for political ads ahead of bloc-wide elections this May. The social media company said that the restrictions that were in place for federal elections in the United States will be extended to Europe. Under the new rules, which will also apply in Australia and India, political advertisers will need to be certified.
The updated policy aimed at transparency, has Ads, in the form of “promoted tweets”. The tweets are stored in a publicly accessible database or an archive for seven years and will show how much was spent, how many times it was seen and the demographics of the people who saw it.
“This is part of our overall goal to protect the health of the public conversation on our service and to provide meaningful context around all political entities who use our advertising products,” the company said in a blog post.
As part of the new policy, Twitter will verify political advertisers who will be required to provide proof in order to run ads on the platform. Political parties will be required to produce their Election Commission registration certificate or founding documents of the party while organizations will submit their address proof and Company Identity Number (CIN). Political advertisers will also have to submit a photo ID.
The policy which will come into effect on March 11, will only allow verified users to run political ads. Twitter is also adding disclosures and disclaimer information by means of visual labels on promoted content from verified accounts in order to easily identify political campaign ads and who paid for them.
"Twitter deeply respects the integrity of the election process and are committed to providing a service that fosters and facilitates free and open democratic debate. The EU election is a priority for the company, and Twitter will continue to share openly and transparently about its work to protect and enhance the public conversation," Twitter said.
Users will be responsible for reading the disclaimer and comprehending that it is politically motivated. This is challenging if an individual does not have enough political knowledge to identify all parties and their associates, because the disclaimer will only identify the advertiser’s name or agency.
Our assessment is that the new policy changes in Facebook, Twitter and Google are being enforced to collectively combat disinformation. This will reduce the misuse of social media to influence users during elections. While the new restrictions might help, government regulation is the only way to ensure free and fair elections.