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Twitter Canada rolling out election ad transparency measures ‘in the coming weeks’
Twitter says it will disclose all political ads running on the platform, as well as revealing who is behind them and how much they spent.
Oct. 25, 2017
Sabrina Nanji

Canadians thumbing through Twitter will soon see a special tag on election ads, as well as who placed the post and how they were targeted.

That’s part of the ad transparency package Twitter announced this week — days after U.S. lawmakers moved to regulate shady political advertising on social media, and the week before it, Facebook and Google are scheduled to testify to Congress about enabling possible Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

A spokesman confirmed the new measures will be rolled out in Canada “in the coming weeks” but declined to share further details for this story.

Twitter said it will disclose all political ads running on the platform, as well as revealing who is behind them and how much they spent, along with information on how users are targeted based on age, gender and location. Election-related ads will be tagged as such, and the company will implement “stricter requirements on who can serve these ads and limit targeting options,” Bruce Falck, general manager of revenue product and engineering, wrote on a blog post.

Facebook took a similar step last month to shed more light on advertising.

Twitter, Facebook and Google have previously revealed that Russian-linked groups purchased ads and used bots or fake accounts to spread discord over hot-button political issues such as immigration in the 2016 U.S. election.

Meanwhile, Canada’s electronic spy agency has warned the 2019 federal vote could be vulnerable to cyberattacks and malicious actors that sow misinformation online.

There have also been calls — including from the Senate and chief electoral officer — to tighten the Elections Act to address the potential for foreign interference, and particularly when it comes to social media.

Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould — fresh off Facebook Canada’s panel discussion promoting its own “election integrity” plan — lauded Twitter’s move to self-regulate.

“I encourage all online platforms to think critically about the steps they can take to ensure a fair and level playing field in our democracy,” she said.