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X/Twitter Will Accept Political Ads Again, Reversing Pre-Musk Ban

Elon Musk’s X, the social network formerly known as Twitter, will again begin accepting political advertising after a nearly four-year ban — with some caveats.

In a blog post Tuesday, X said, “Building on our commitment to free expression, we are also going to allow political advertising,” beginning in the U.S.

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The decision reverses Twitter’s previous ban on all political ads, which dates to October 2019. At the time, then-CEO Jack Dorsey explained the move to cease political advertising globally by saying, “We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

According to X’s blog post Tuesday, the company will “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.”

In addition, the company said, it will provide a “global advertising transparency center” that will let anyone review political posts being promoted on X and will implement “robust screening processes to ensure only eligible groups and campaigns are able to advertise.”

X, which Musk renamed last month after buying Twitter for $44 billion in October 2022, has seen ad sales plummet some 50% since the tech mogul’s takeover. “We’re still negative cash flow, due to ~50% drop in advertising revenue plus heavy debt load,” Musk posted on July 15.

The company said in the Aug. 29 blog post that it is currently expanding its safety and elections teams “to focus on combating manipulation, surfacing inauthentic accounts and closely monitoring the platform for emerging threats.”

During elections, specifically, X said it maintains its Civic Integrity Policy, which prohibits manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes. The company is now updating the 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.” That will be in line with X’s updated enforcement philosophy, dubbed “Freedom of Speech, Not Reach,” which aims to limit the visibility of posts that violate policies (rather than removing them).

According to X, it will add “publicly visible labels” to posts that have been identified as potentially violating the Civic Integrity Policy, letting users know “when their reach has been restricted.”

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