Elon Musk's X Reverses Twitter's Ban On Political Ads

X, formerly known as Twitter, is once again opening the doors to political ads on the platform, according to a blog post. The company banned political ads in 2019 under previous leadership following the furor over election misinformation. "We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought," CEO Jack Dorsey wrote in a post following the ban. Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg took a different route regarding such ads on Facebook, arguing that it wasn't for private companies to censor politicians in a democracy.

The company has undergone significant changes following Elon Musk's $44 billion acquisition. In January 2023, X announced that it would relax the company's policies related to "cause-based ads," reasoning that such advertising could "facilitate public conversation around important topics." Fast forward to August 2023, and we have X making a full reversal of the former Twitter policy, stating that it will allow political ads on the platform ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

X says it aims to enable free and open political discourse, but adds that it won't allow "false or misleading content." While the promise holds good intentions, executing it won't be easy. Soon after Musk took over, the company allegedly gutted most of its Trust & Safety team that was tasked with keeping misinformation in check, Bloomberg reported in November 2022. X's chief of trust and safety operations, Ella Irwin, resigned in June, and in the following month, Twitter reorganized the team under newly appointed CEO Linda Yaccarino.

Twitter users can help call out misinformation

Now that X has confirmed plans to allow political ads, it is taking extra cautionary steps. The company will vet interested groups before their ads are allowed, and an advertising transparency center will also go live so that users can review political ads being promoted on their feeds. It appears that X is also tapping its community to help call out misinformation. The company points toward its Community Notes feature as a way to make that possible; it allows users to fact-check and label a post regarding its truthfulness.

Furthermore, X will label political ads if they violate its Civic Integrity Policy and will duly inform the group behind them when such ads have their reach restricted. The company once known as Twitter says it wants to reach a balance in which it neither censors political debate nor dissuades people from engaging in their civic responsibilities. To ensure that those goals are achieved, the company says it is strengthening its team overseeing elections and safety so that it can spot threats like manipulation and inauthentic accounts.

Under the ownership of Musk, X is desperately trying to boost engagement, and political content seems like a solid bet. Just a few days ago, Donald Trump — who was permanently banned in 2021 – made his return to X with a widely meme-ified mugshot. Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson's interview with Trump garnered over 260 million views on X.