- Twitter said it would allow anyone to see any ad purchased on its platform, including the identity of the purchaser and how the ad is targeted at users.
- The preemptive move comes as US lawmakers consider a bill that would force tech companies like Twitter to disclose political ads.
Twitter announced Tuesday plans to publicly disclose all ads on its platform and the identity of who purchased them, a move aimed at curtailing proposed legislation in the US that would force the disclosure of political ads on social networks.
In a company blog post, Twitter said it would publish a “Transparency Center” website where anyone could see all of the ads running on its platform, who is behind the ads, and how the ads are targeted at specific users.
The self-imposed disclosures will also apply to political ads and “dark ads” that are only visible to targeted user demographics. Ads tailored to support specific political candidates will also be shown to users with a new political ad label, Twitter said. A Twitter representative told Business Insider that the move was in response to proposed legislation designed to regulate online advertising.
Last week, two Democratic senators introduced the “Honest Ads Act,” which would require big tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to disclose political ads purchased on their platforms. The bill follows a series of revelations surrounding Russia’s use of platforms like Facebook to sway political opinions around the 2016 US presidential election.
Twitter’s move to suddenly disclose all of its ads comes after it recently handed over to US investigators nearly 2,000 sponsored tweets from the Russian state-backed news network Russia Today, which US government intelligence officials have identified as “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.”
In September, Twitter said it had identified roughly 200 fake advertisers on its network with the same ties to Russian agents that purchased ads on Facebook around the 2016 election. Multiple reports have highlighted the use of Russian-linked fake accounts on Twitter to spread misinformation and sow divisiveness before and after the election.
Twitter’s preemptive move to disclose its own ads follows in the footsteps of Facebook, which said in September that it will show the ads purchased by individual pages on its network.
One of the senators behind the Honest Ads Act, Mark Warner, called Twitter’s more to disclose its ads a “good first step” in a tweet on Tuesday.
Representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter are scheduled to testify next week in open hearings on Capitol Hill about Russia’s use of social networks to influence US elections.