Twitter pledges to support honest ads
Twitter has recently announced new plans to try and tackle potentially harmful online advertisements in support of the proposed Honest Ads Act. The act looks to clamp down on the way that adverts are portrayed to the masses – in particular those of a political or ‘issue-based’ nature.
In a first of its kind step Twitter made the announcement in a blog post which outlined their pledge. Some of the measures proposed include an industry-leading ‘Transparency Centre’ which will disclose to Twitter users information regarding who is advertising, details behind those ads and tools to share feedback on any adverts that may be found offensive.
Information available will include how long ads have been running; the creative linked the campaigns and clarification on which ads are specifically targeted to individual users.
In the last couple of years there has been a real emphasis put on the content and targeting of online ads on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook due to the scope for influence they have on key political events. The move from Twitter to try and support the movement towards more honest ads comes after the company received scrutiny for the way that Russian groups were exploiting its ad platform during the 2016 US election.
Twitter specifically declared that they will target political ads, with their blog post stating of politically directed ads, “we will now require that electioneering advertisers identify their campaigns as such. We will also change the look and feel of these ads and include a visual political ad indicator”.
In a further show of effort from Twitter to quash politically driven ads they have banned two Kremlin-backed news channels from advertising – Russia Today and Sputnik. Twitter confirmed that it has earned $1.9m in advertising fess from Russia Today in the last 6 years and said of the ban, “We did not come to this decision lightly, and are taking this step now as part of our ongoing commitment to help protect the integrity of the user experience on Twitter”.
The news comes as Facebook, Twitter and Google are all due to testify in a case relating to Russian involvement in the US election, something that has directly resulted in the introduction of the so named ‘Honest Ads Act’. The legislation, if passed, would involve social media companies with 50 million plus unique visitors to have a database of political ads publically available, and to hold specific records of companies that have purchased more than $500 worth of political ads in the previous year.
The battle against false information advertised within leading social media platforms is likely to be a long one, and it is a topic that is sure to dominate the headlines for months to come.
With so many people able to be influenced through online targeted advertisement it is crucial that we, as consumers, are aware of the way that these advertisements work. It is also the job of Twitter, along with other social media firms, to responsibly monitor ads.