Twitter announces ban on pre-election ads

Twitter Canada is banning political advertising in the lead-up to the upcoming federal election.

In a blog post earlier this week, Michele Austin, Twitter’s head of government, public policy and philanthropy, said the social platform won’t permit advertising beginning June 30 until the day the election is called.

It will spend the intervening period building the required infrastructure and product support to ensure it is “appropriately prepared for the critical election period,” said Austin.

In an interview with the CBC earlier this week, Austin said that Twitter will permit regulated political ads, including issue advocacy ads, as soon as the writ is dropped. They will be published in its Ads Transparency Center (ATC).

Twitter’s decision follows the passage of Bill C-76 (also known as the Elections Modernization Act), which requires digital platforms to maintain a registry of all partisan and election advertising published during both the pre-election and election periods.

The registry is required to include a copy of the advertising message, and the name of the person who authorized it. “This represents an important step towards ensuring that Canadians have the tools to know who is trying to influence their vote,” said an official statement from the Government of Canada.

Both Google and Microsoft stated earlier this year they would not run political advertising during this election, claiming it would be too difficult to maintain a registry of political ads. Facebook said that it would comply with the new rules, and Austin said that Twitter fully supports Bill C-76.

“Our goal is to enhance transparency and to ensure a fair and level playing field when our advertising products are used during elections,” she wrote. “We believe that providing meaningful context around all political entities who use our advertising products is vital in this regard. We firmly believe voters must be provided with more context around the ads they see on our service and how we enforce our policies.”

Twitter introduced the Political Campaigning Policy in the United States last year, with an aim of providing “clear insight into how we define political advertising and who is advertising on Twitter.” Launched simultaneously, the ATC allows anyone to view promoted tweets, along with details on political ads including ad spend, targeting demographics and billing information.

Chris Powell