Shortly after Facebook announced that it was finally rolling out its tool for users to see all the active ads being run by a single Page, Twitter announced today that it is releasing its long-awaited Ads Transparency Center.
Anyone — whether they are a registered Twitter user or not — will be able to see all of the campaigns that an advertiser has run within the past 7 days by searching for that advertiser’s Twitter handle. A Twitter spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email that “given this is our first iteration of this, you can imagine we will look into this and see if we need to adapt [the length of time] in the future.”
For now, the center simply shows the Tweets promoted by that account, as well as the number of retweets and likes they’ve garnered. A quick scroll through Twitter’s promoted Tweets in the past 7 days, for example, shows the company heavily promoting its Moments tab in conjunction with the World Cup.
U.S. political ads, however, will be searchable for an indefinite amount of time, and will include more detailed information like demographic targeting data and ad spend. In May, Twitter unveiled a new Political Ads Policy, which covers any ad that attempts to influence the outcome of an election. In the U.S., the policy for now only applies to advertising related to federal elections.
U.S. political advertisers have to first be certified by Twitter, and include a bio with a “website that provides valid contact info”; a profile, header, and website that are “consistent” with the account’s online presence; and a disclaimer if its not immediately recognizable how the handle is related to the organization that owns the handle.
Twitter initially said in October that the Ads Transparency Center would be rolling out later in the fall. Today’s announcement gave no specific explanation for the delay. The center was announced not too long after Twitter faced criticism from politicians and users that the company didn’t do enough to vet ads from foreign groups like the Internet Research Agency, which attempted to sway voters during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Facebook and Twitter have also rolled out their ad transparency initiatives in the face of potential regulation from Congress. Both companies have endorsed the Honest Ads Act, initially introduced in October by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA), and John McCain (R-AZ). Under the act, platforms with more than 50 million monthly users would have to keep a file of political ads bought by groups that spent more than $500.
One key difference between Twitter’s transparency center announced today and the “info and ads” tab that Facebook released today is that Twitter’s center is searchable by handle and doesn’t require users to first click on the account of an advertiser. Facebook does have a searchable database, but only for political and issue ads. Twitter also announced today that it would be releasing its own issue ads policy soon. Facebook’s issue ads policy dictated that ads that dealt with any of 20 topics determined by Facebook to be politically contentious be labeled.
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