Twitter lifts political ad ban as Musk looks to boost revenue

Ads from politicians and issue-based groups, which have been restricted since 2019, could unlock more revenue for controversy-stricken Twitter.

Twitter has announced that it is relaxing some of its policies that ban political advertisements on the platform as new CEO Elon Musk attempts to boost revenue and cut costs.

The @TwitterSafety account announced the changes in a tweet Tuesday evening, saying, “We believe that cause-based advertising can facilitate public conversation around important topics. Today, we’re relaxing our ads policy for cause-based ads in the US.”

The company also announced plans to expand political advertising, but didn’t set a specific time frame beyond “weeks.”

The social media company had initially banned all forms of political advertising in 2019 when former CEO and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey said the reach of such messages should be “earned” and not “bought”. 

The announcement comes as advertisers have fled the platform in droves after Elon Musk’s takeover last October, over uncertainty of its new policies on hate speech and the reinstatement of several previously-banned accounts. 

Political ads on social media have been controversial in the past, but they can be lucrative for platforms. Meta’s Facebook and Google’s YouTube also allow paid political content, but TikTok still has a ban on political advertising.

New data point for Tweets

The move comes after Twitter made a change to its tweet stats over the holiday period, now displaying view counts to indicate how many times a tweet has been seen. The metric is listed beside comments, likes, and retweets. 

Users were always able to see advanced data regarding tweet activity for their own posts, but activity numbers for others’ posts were hidden. 

Following the change, users can now quantify how many people a tweet has reached, even if those users are not publicly liking, retweeting, or commenting on a post. 

The move was announced by Elon Musk, who is still running Twitter despite being voted to step down by users. "Twitter is rolling out View Count, so you can see how many times a tweet has been seen," Musk tweeted. 

This is technically a new data point for tweets, as Twitter users were only able to see the number of impressions (the number of renders on a screen) for their own posts, and not the actual views (the number of engagements with the content).