Twitter is tightening its rules for political advertisements and campaigns on its platform.  It said that advertisers will have to follow a set of guidelines on how they present their profiles.

This move follows major backlash against social media platforms for their role in influencing election results earlier, specifically the Russian influence on the 2016 US Presidential elections with bots and fake accounts and pages to run ads.

In its updated set of rules, Twitter mandates that political advertisers put a profile photo, header photo, and website link. The user or organizer must be consistent with the handle’s online presence. Handles’ bio must include a website that provides valid contact info.

Advertisers who wish to target the U.S. with political campaigning ads must file for certification along with adhering to above rules. If handle name is not related to the certified entity, the bio must include the following disclaimer: “Owned by [certified entity name]”. The certified advertisers will be allowed to run political campaigning ads and all Tweets will display a “Promoted” political badge and ‘paid for by’ and ‘authorized/not authorized’ disclaimers. Also, once enforcement begins, all political campaigning ads from non-certified accounts will be halted.

This particular policy is only applicable in the US currently and Twitter said that it will make adjustments, and localize market by market, however, there is no timeline to that.

Twitter said that in addition to these rules, political advertisers also need to comply with country-specific local rules and laws regarding disclosure and content requirements, eligibility restrictions, and blackout dates etc.

Facebook and political ads

At the same time, Facebook too has also enforced new controls it announced last month for building transparency on its site. It will be labelling all political and issue ads, and include information about who paid for them. When you click on the label, you’ll be taken to an archive with more information. For example, the campaign budget associated with an individual ad and how many people saw it – including their age, location and gender. Facebook also mandates verification of identity and location of anyone who wants to run such ads.

In its earnings call for the quarter ended March 31, 2018 (Q1 2018), CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said that Facebook is working to protect political discourse by making ads more transparent. For running political and issue ads on the platform, advertisers will need verified government ID. Mark claimed in the call that, “We’re also starting to roll out ads transparency tools that bring our ads to an even higher standard of transparency than TV or print ads. You’ll be able to see who’s running a political ad, who they’re targeting, how much they’re paying, and what other messages they’re sending to different people. We’re going to get this done in time for the 2018 US midterms as well as upcoming elections in Mexico, Brazil, India, Pakistan, and more.”