Twitter follows Facebook in endorsing the Honest Ads Act

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The Twitter logo is displayed outside the company's headquarters in San Francisco.
The Twitter logo is displayed outside the company's headquarters in San Francisco. Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Twitter said the Honest Ads Act, which would require broader disclosures in online political advertising, "provides an appropriate framework" for ensuring transparency in digital ads, and the company will work with legislators to "refine and advance" the proposal.

In a tweet on its public policy feed on Tuesday, the social media company effectively embraced the idea of some form of regulation of internet ads. The Honest Ads Act, a Senate bill introduced last year with bipartisan co-sponsors, would subject online political ads to the same sort of disclosure rules that now govern similar content in other media such as TV and radio.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg endorsed the Honest Ads Act on Friday. Both social media companies have been seeking to respond to revelations that Russian operatives used their platforms to spread discord in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and concerns that they may continue to use the sites to try to influence upcoming campaigns.

In October, amid the uproar over election meddling, Twitter said it was creating a new "transparency center" that will dedicate a section to political ads that will show how much each campaign spent on advertising, the identity of the organization funding the campaign and what demographics the ad targeted. Political ads will be required to identify their campaigns and will be indicated on Twitter with a different look and feel. The company also said it will introduce stronger penalties for advertisers who violate policies.

On Tuesday, Twitter said its transparency center will provide more detail on the origin of political ads, beyond what is required by the proposed U.S. legislation. It plans to roll out the platform this summer.

Honest Ads Act sponsors Mark Warner, a Democratic senator from Virginia, and Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic senator from Minnesota, on Monday wrote letters to Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, and Larry Page, who leads Google parent Alphabet Inc., asking them to support the proposed legislation and implement its rules on their platforms.

"These measures not only increase transparency in political advertising, but also promote accountability—both of platforms and of political advertisers," the senators wrote.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the senators' letter.

—Selina Wang with assistance by Steven T. Dennis, Bloomberg News

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