Twitter releases tool to improve political ad transparency

Twitter on Thursday released a new tool that lets users see who paid for the political campaign ads that show up in their tweet feeds. The tool, dubbed Ads Transparency Center, is tied to Twitter’s efforts to improve information clarity ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

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The portal also provides information about how much advertisers spent and what factors they used for targeting demographics. Additional information will also show up next to ads within the Twitter feed, including a visual badge that marks it as political.

“This will allow users to easily identify political campaign ads, know who paid for them, and whether it was authorized by a candidate,” Bruce Falck, Twitter’s GM of revenue product, wrote in a blog post.

The transparency tool is part of Twitter’s broader effort to clean up its service after alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Twitter has faced criticism for claims that it was slow to respond to deleting accounts associated with Russian meddling.

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube have since pledged to build a shared database of digital fingerprints of extremist material and content removed from their services in the hope of making it more difficult to share.

In October, Twitter banned media sites Russia Today and Sputnik from advertising on its platform after determining that both Kremlin-backed news outlets attempted to interfere with and disrupt the 2016 election.

Looking ahead to the 2018 election, Twitter says plans to better coordinate with federal and state election officials to ensure verification of major party candidates. The company also plans to weed out networks of malicious automation via improvements to its anti-spam technology, and will also monitor trends and spikes in conversations relating to the 2018 elections for potential manipulation.