Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. Photo: Jason Doiy/ALM

Twitter became the latest social media platform to change its political campaigning ad policies Tuesday, announcing enhanced transparency features ahead of elections in Europe, India and Australia.

Social media companies, including Twitter, have faced criticism in recent years for their platforms’ role in spreading politically motivated misinformation and hate speech. As of March 11, Twitter will only allow certified advertisers to run political campaign ads on its platform in all European Union member states, India and Australia, as all three face major elections in 2019.

Prospective political advertisers must apply for certification, Karen White, Twitter’s director of public policy, Europe, said in a blog post Tuesday.

“Once proof of identity is verified, and advertisers meet our eligibility requirements, a letter with an access code will be posted to their address to confirm they are located within the EU,” White said in the post. “This will ensure that only EU-based individuals can advertise political campaign content on the service.”

She said Twitter will also publicly publish political ads’ billing information, ad spend, targeted demographics and impressions per tweet in the platform’s ads transparency center. An elections team composed of trust and safety, legal, public policy and other departments will work to prevent election interference on the platform.

The San Francisco-based company launched similar political campaign policies in the U.S. in May 2018, ahead of the country’s November midterm elections. Last month, Carlos Monje Jr., Twitter’s director of public policy and philanthropy, U.S. and Canada, published a review of the company’s midterm election efforts.

Monje said Twitter identified some potential foreign attempts at election interference during the midterms, but found most voter suppression efforts were domestic. Still, he said in his post, threats could change in future elections.

“Elections are coming up around the world, and our goal is to protect their integrity to the best of our ability and to take the learnings from each with us,” he said. “Our role, as ever, is to do our best to stay one step ahead while remaining humble in the face of potential new challenges.”

Other U.S. tech companies, including Google and Facebook, have also revised political ad policies during elections. In May 2018, Facebook prohibited foreign actors from buying political ads in Ireland prior to the country’s vote on a referendum to repeal the country’s constitutional ban on abortion.

Menlo Park, California-based Facebook has been the main subject of international criticism for failing to curb fake news on its platform prior to the 2016 U.S. election.

“Our company approach is to build tools to increase transparency around political advertising so that people know who is paying for the ads they are seeing, and to ensure any organisation running a political ad is located in that country,” Facebook said in a May 2018 blog post announcing its policy in Ireland.

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