Elon Musk throws out Twitter's political-advertising ban in a quest for revenue to save his floundering social-media company
- Elon Musk is lifting Twitter's ban on political ads.
- This ban was put in place by the Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey.
Political advertising is set to return to Twitter after a three-year hiatus.
Twitter will be "expanding" the amount of political advertising allowed on the platform and "relaxing" its rules around "cause-based" advertising, the site's safety department said Tuesday. Political ads have been prohibited on Twitter since 2019.
"Moving forward, we will align our advertising policy with that of TV and other media outlets," Twitter Safety wrote on its Twitter account. TV advertising falls under the oversight of the Federal Communications Commission, which doesn't fact-check any form of advertising, political or otherwise.
The Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey took a hard line toward political ads while serving as CEO of the company, saying that "political message reach should be earned, not bought," and that the rise of political advertising online and the practice of microtargeting were creating "significant ramifications that today's democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle." These policies, which he put in place, are still available on Twitter's business website.
Cause-based ads, like those promoting a specific action toward a predetermined outcome, have been limited on Twitter as a result of Dorsey's policies. Targeting an audience based on ZIP code, for instance, isn't allowed, and groups that want to run cause-based ads need to commit to certain criteria.
Since Elon Musk took over Twitter at the end of October, the company's finances have deteriorated as brands and advertisers have fled. Its business is based almost entirely on advertising, but under Musk's chaotic reign he has let go 70% of Twitter's staff, including most of the people responsible for monitoring the kind of user content ads appeared next to.
Musk has also continued to make polarizing and political statements, leaving advertisers in no hurry to return. Now, the billionaire is looking for any way he can to cut costs and drive revenue. He's compared the company to "a plane headed towards the ground."
Political advertisers spend billions of dollars a year. In 2022, digital advertising for all political campaigns in the US exceeded $3 billion, according to Insider Intelligence. More than $1.5 billion was spent on the 2020 US presidential race alone, mostly on digital ads and TV.
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