Twitter introduces new transparency and certification rules for 'issue ads'

Tim Maytom

Twitter has rolled out a new series of policies aimed at increasing transparency in political advertising. The guidelines build on the firm's recently-launched Ad Transparency Centre, and expand the stricter standards for US federal election ads to the broader category of 'issue ads'.

In a blog post, Twitter's vice president of trust and safety Del Harvey and general manager of revenue product Bruce Falck laid out details of the new policy, which affects two categories of promoted Tweet: ads that refer to an election or a clearly identified candidate, or ads that advocate for legislative issues of national importance.

In both of these cases, advertisers will now need to apply for certification, which will involve verifiying their identity and ensuring they are located in the US. Like election ads, these 'issue ads' will be labeled as such in the Twitter timeline, and users will be able to click through to access more details on the advertiser.

Among the topics that might be covered by the new policy are abortion, civil rights, climate change, guns, healthcare, immigration, national security, social security, taxes and trade, although Twitter stated that this list is simply the top-level issues the firm is considering with the new policy, and it expects the list to evolve over time.

"The intention of this policy is to provide the public with greater transparency into ads that seek to influence people's stance on issues that may influence election outcomes," said Harvey and Falck in the post announcing the policy. "We are continuing our efforts to expand our political content policies globally and will continue to work towards providing increased transparency for all advertising on Twitter."

The new policy is the latest in a series of moves Twitter has made following the fake news and Russian election tampering scandals. The platform has stepped up efforts to purge fake and bot-driven accounts from its service, and has tightened up the requirements for third-party apps connecting with its platform to ensure security.