Twitter to begin labeling political ads

Twitter to begin labeling political ads
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Twitter announced Tuesday that it would begin labeling political advertisements as part of a new effort to increase transparency on its platform.

The company said that in the coming weeks it will move to identify political electioneering ads, which the Federal Election Commission (FEC) defines as ads promoting a specific candidate or a party within 30 days of a primary election and 60 days of a general election.

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Such labeling would include some kind of signifier, like a purple dot noting that the tweet is prompted by a political account, according to a potential mockup the company included in a post announcing the changes.

The company said it will also create an “Advertising Transparency Center” where users can see all ad campaigns currently being run on the social media platform, whether political in nature or not.

In the center, users will have access to the total amount being spent on ad campaigns by companies, information on advertisers, demographics for the ads' targeted audience and historical data on advertisers’ past marketing campaigns.

Twitter’s new transparency provisions come ahead of testimony by the company's acting general counsel, Sam Edgett, on Capitol Hill as part of the probe into Russia's election meddling.

Edgett is slated to appear before the House and Senate Intelligence committees in back-to-back testimony. Lawmakers say they plan to press the Twitter representative on how Russian actors may have taken advantage of advertising on their platforms to influence voters.

The hearings are both scheduled for Nov. 1. Google and Facebook will also send their top lawyers to testify before the committees in both chambers.

The changes outlined by Twitter on Tuesday also come after Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Warren leads in speaking time during debate MORE (D-Minn.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerYang compares U.S. election tampering to Russia's election interference efforts Mark Warner nominates Bryan Cranston to play him in a movie Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservative politicians, pundits MORE (D-Va.) introduced legislation to increase digital ad transparency last week.

Their bill, called “The Honest Ads Act,” would force digital platforms with 50 million or more monthly unique viewers to adhere to political ad regulations similar to those for TV and radio outlets.

"A good first step, particularly public disclosure of ads info," Warner tweeted of Twitter's announcement. "Online political ads need more transparency & disclosure."

In their post, Twitter thanked Klobuchar and Warner for “their foresight in drawing attention to these issues.”

“We look forward to engaging with Members of Congress and other key stakeholders on these issues as the legislative process continues,” it wrote.

Updated: 5:20 p.m.