Ahead of the federal election, Twitter is rolling out new policies on political advertising on the platform in an effort to combat misinformation and election interference.
Commencing in the week of March 11, political ads will be labelled, and advertisers must prove they are in Australia.
The move was first executed in the United States in response to international interference in the 2016 presidential election, and will also be implemented for India and EU parliamentary elections.
According to Twitter’s political campaigning policy FAQs, the policy “varies across markets but generally applies to ads that advocate for or against a candidate or political party, or ads by candidates and/or entities registered with their respective electoral commission”, and “only applies to candidates running for a general election”.
The policy distinguishes between campaigning and issue advocacy, which is allowed globally (except in the US, where advertisers must get certified and meet additional criteria), leading to concern from some that the system could still be exploited.
Dr Andrew Hughes, a political marketing expert at the Australian National University, told ABC: “It doesn’t look at the tweets themselves, which can be used to influence people, so the organic tweets.
“Issue-based campaigns and advertising is going to be very critical here at the next election”.
The new policies follow electoral law changes made in 2018, in which political ads on social media now require to disclose who bankrolled them.
Twitter head of public policy, Australia and New Zealand, spoke of how previous elections had framed the company’s mandates moving forward: “In the 2016 US presidential election, we found ways that our platform was being manipulated that we previously didn’t know about.
“Verifying identity and verifying addresses is one of the key things we can do to ensure organisations that are based in the country are the ones that are actually serving political ads”.
The move follows Facebook’s announcement that it was developing a fact-checking unit within the app ahead of the 2019 federal election.