Twitter to crack down on political ads, flag manipulated content

Microblogging site Twitter is implementing several measures ahead of legislative Assembly elections in four states and a Union Territory, including steps like preventing prohibited political ads by identifying and blocking such promoted content from candidates and parties. The states of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala, and the Union Territory Puducherry go for elections from March 27.

Notably, much of Twitter’s measures to enforce election rules take from actions taken by the site in earlier elections both in India as well as abroad. “Twitter banned political ads in 2019, we believe that political message reach should be earned, not bought, bringing ads from political candidates and political parties to an end. We are taking proactive measures to prevent prohibited political advertising through comprehensive and nuanced enforcement mechanisms. These include identifying and blocking ads from referenced candidates, parties, and other election-related content,” the company said in a blogpost.

Further, Twitter is expanding its team with “local, cultural, and language expertise” to deal with “attempts to manipulate the platform and content that can incite violence, abuse, and threats and trigger the risk of offline harm.”

Twitter had come under fire after it initially refused to ban some accounts on its platform after specific requests from the government, in the wake of the protests at Red Fort on January 26.

“We continue to invest in technological solutions and have deployed tools backed by technology to detect and surface abusive content more efficiently. This way, the content that’s most likely to cause harm is prioritised for review by our team of specialists to determine whether the content violates the Twitter Rules,” it said.

Twitter will also try to identify manipulated media and when “people attempt to Retweet Tweets with a synthetic and manipulated media label, they will see a prompt pointing them to credible information”. “These Tweets won’t be algorithmically recommended by Twitter, which further reduces the visibility of misleading information,” the site added.

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