X opens the floodgates on political ads

The company said it's staffing up teams focused on safety and elections.

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The company previously known as Twitter is fully reversing a longtime ban on political advertising after it first loosened its rules in January. X said in an update it would once again open its doors to political advertisers of all stripes.

“Building on our commitment to free expression, we are also going to allow political advertising,” the company wrote. It added that it will “apply specific policies to paid-for promoted political posts,” including rules barring “the promotion of false or misleading content” as well as content “intended to undermine public confidence in an election.” X also said it’s planning to create a “global advertising transparency center” so that users can track political ads on the platform.

Twitter first banned political ads in 2019, with then-CEO Jack Dorsey saying that “political message reach should be earned, not bought.” That began to change earlier this year when the company eased restrictions for “caused-based” ads, citing the importance of “public conversation around important topics.”

Now, it’s unclear if there is any kind of political ad that would be off-limits on X so long as it adheres to the company’s rules. Of note, X has yet to update support pages outlining its political ad rules, though it said in a blog post it was updating its civic integrity policy “to make sure we strike the right balance between tackling the most harmful types of content … and not censoring political debate.” X didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The policy changes could have significant implications for the upcoming 2024 elections. X also said that it was in the process of staffing up its teams overseeing safety and elections policies, “to focus on combating manipulation, surfacing inauthentic accounts and closely monitoring the platform for emerging threats.”

Opening to political ads could also be a major boon to X’s ad business, which has dropped 50 percent since Elon Musk’s takeover last year. Though conventional advertisers have increasingly shied away from the platform, political campaigns may have a harder time staying away ahead of a major election.