Elon Musk's Twitter lifts ban on political ads

Illustration shows Twitter logo

By Sheila Dang

(Reuters) -Twitter Inc will reverse its 2019 ban on political ads, the company's head of trust and safety confirmed to Reuters on Wednesday, as the Elon Musk-owned company seeks to grow revenue.

The company tweeted on Tuesday it would relax its advertising policy for "cause-based ads" in the United States and align its ad policy with TV and other media outlets.

The change brings Twitter's policies closer to Meta Platform's Facebook and Alphabet Inc's YouTube, which allow political advertising. One platform that still bans political ads is Chinese video app TikTok.

"We believe that cause-based advertising can facilitate public conversation around important topics," the social media company tweeted.

Cause-based ads that will be allowed on Twitter include ads that educate or raise awareness of issues such as voter registration, climate change or government programs like the Census, said Ella Irwin, Twitter's head of trust and safety, in an email.

Twitter banned political ads in 2019 after it and other social media companies faced widespread criticism for allowing election misinformation to spread. It also restricted ads related to social causes.

"We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought," tweeted Jack Dorsey, Twitter's then-chief executive, in announcing the move.

Since Musk took over Twitter in late October, corporate advertisers have fled in response to the Tesla CEO laying off thousands of employees, reversing the permanent suspension of former U.S. President Donald Trump and rushing a paid verification feature that resulted in scammers impersonating publicly listed companies on Twitter.

Last month, Musk defended his deep cost-cutting measures and said Twitter had been facing "negative cash flow" of $3 billion next year.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru and Sheila Dang in Dallas; Editing by Devika Syamnath, Stephen Coates and Lisa Shumaker)