Twitter to Ease Ban on Political Advertising Under Musk

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(Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. will relax a three-year ban on political advertising in a continued policy shift after its takeover by billionaire Elon Musk.

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The company said on Tuesday that it will expand the political advertising it permits in coming weeks to “facilitate public conversation around important topics” and align its advertising policy with those of TV and other media outlets, with further details to be announced.

While it wasn’t immediately clear how extensive the changes will be, it represents a departure from a global ban on advertisements by candidates, elected officials and political parties first announced in 2019 by Twitter co-founder — and chief executive officer at the time — Jack Dorsey.

Dorsey justified the ban, which attracted the ire of then-President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, by saying that “political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

But since Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter, he has alleged censorship by the previous leadership of the social media platform and enacted broad changes with little warning. Among other shifts, the company has ended a policy preventing the sharing of Covid misinformation, reinstated the accounts of Trump and other right-wing personalities, and banned users tracking Musk’s private jet.

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Twitter currently allows some so-called issue ads or cause-based ads for some economic, environmental and social topics, albeit with restrictions. The company said it will also relax its policy for such cause-based ads in the US.

Political advertising was a minor income source for Twitter before the ban — amounting to less than $3 million in sales during the 2018 US midterm elections. Still, the easing may help a company now struggling to stem losses in ad revenue as brands pull back from the site amid concern about its moderation policies.

--With assistance from Kurt Wagner.

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