Twitter's blue checkmarks are about to get a brand-new friend. According to Mashable, the social media platform is introducing purple dots and squares so that users can quickly identify political accounts and content promoted by them.
Following the Federal Election Commission's guidelines for political ads, Twitter will call out "promotions for a candidate 30 days ahead of a primary election and 60 days ahead of a general election." The definition for political ads and Twitter's move to give users a way to clearly see what's political and promoted comes after investigations found groups connected to the Russian government using social media to spread various messages before the 2016 U.S. election.
In a blog post, Twitter explained that the new identifiers will be used for every political ad, regardless of party affiliation. "To make it clear when you are seeing or engaging with an electioneering ad, we will now require that electioneering advertisers identify their campaigns as such," the post reads. "We will also change the look and feel of these ads and include a visual political ad indicator."
Twitter is also limiting the reach of political ads. Moving forward, advertisers will no longer be able to target every single targeting option when promoting an ad.
In addition to identifying political ads with purple dots, Twitter will actually be offering the general public an open database of all ads on the platform. Twitter users will be able to see which ads are targeted to them and what criteria advertisers used to choose them. Political ads will be included in the database.
All of this is part of Twitter's effort to combat misinformation. Currently, there's no company standard for "issue-based ads." So, while the new dots are just a small part of cracking down on malicious ads, it is an indicator that Twitter is trying to provide its users with transparency moving forward.
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