X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, has announced the lifting of its ban on political advertising while maintaining restrictions on the promotion of false information.
The move coincides with the start of the 2024 election campaign season in the United States. In a recent blog post, X outlined its approach to “political discourse” in the lead-up to the election.
“Building on our commitment to free expression, we are also going to allow political advertising. Starting in the US, we’ll continue to apply specific policies to paid-for promoted political posts. This will include prohibiting the promotion of false or misleading content, including false or misleading information intended to undermine public confidence in an election, while seeking to preserve free and open political discourse,” X said in a statement.
The decision opens up new opportunities for candidates to engage with voters through online advertising and also contributes to X’s revenue generation, particularly amidst declining advertising sales.
In January, X eased restrictions on “cause-based advertising,” but this latest move appears to permit election campaigns and political groups to run advertisements either in support of or against specific candidates.
Previously, Twitter, which was acquired by Elon Musk and subsequently rebranded as X, implemented a ban on political advertising in 2019 ahead of the 2020 US presidential election. The then-CEO, Jack Dorsey, emphasized that “political message reach should be earned, not bought.”
Political advertising on social media has been a contentious topic in the US, with concerns over the spread of disinformation through these platforms, particularly in the wake of allegations that Russia had used social media for such purposes during the 2016 elections.
X has indicated that it will introduce “robust screening processes to ensure only eligible groups and campaigns are able to advertise.”
While it did not provide specific details on eligibility criteria, the platform is also expanding its safety and election teams to monitor potential emerging threats, likely including those posed by AI-generated images.
Musk, a proponent of free speech, has streamlined X’s workforce since taking over, raising questions about the platform’s content moderation capabilities.
The issue of content moderation has also been a point of contention, with conservatives criticizing social media companies for their perceived heavy-handed approach.
For example, Twitter indefinitely suspended former US President Donald Trump in January 2021 after the Capitol attack, citing concerns about incitement of violence.
However, Musk reinstated Trump’s account in November 2022. Trump, who was arrested last week for his 2020 election interference efforts, made his first X post in years, sharing a photo of his mugshot. He also indicated his preference for using his Truth Social platform over returning to X full-time.Email your news TIPS to Editor@kahawatungu.com or WhatsApp +254707482874