Twitter has said it will relax restrictions on political advertising as it seeks to generate more revenue after Elon Musk’s $44bn (£36.4bn) takeover of the platform.
The social media platform banned political advertising in 2019 after its then chief executive, Jack Dorsey, declared that reaching people with political messages should be “earned, not bought”.
Twitter has signalled a reversal of that policy, announcing it plans to “expand the political advertising we permit in the coming weeks”. In a post on Twitter’s safety account, the company said it would align its advertising policy with that of TV broadcasters and other media outlets.
The post added that Twitter would ensure, as with any policy change, “our approach to reviewing and approving content protects people on Twitter”. However, Musk has recently reinstated controversial accounts, such as those belonging to Donald Trump and Andrew Tate, despite pledging initially that such moves would be adjudicated by a “content moderation council” that has since fallen by the wayside.
There will be an immediate change for restrictions on “cause-based” advertising, which it defines as ads that encourage people to take action on issues such as social inequality and economic growth. According to a Twitter advertising policy page, cause-based ads that target users in the US will no longer face restrictions such as a ban on using political terms like “conservative” or “liberal”.
Advertising is Twitter’s main source of revenue, accounting for 90% of its $5.1bn turnover in 2021. However, advertisers have paused spending on Twitter after Musk’s takeover, amid fears that divisive content would mushroom on the platform, while a botched relaunch of Twitter’s subscription service also alarmed advertisers by triggering a wave of fake corporate accounts.
About 70% of Twitter’s top 100 advertising clients were not spending on the platform as of mid-December, according to research firm Pathmatics.