Twitter for transparency in ads

With general elections in India less than five months away, Twitter will soon introduce its Ads Transparency Centre in the country that will enable users to see the identity of advertisers funding a political ad on the platform as part of efforts to be more transparent.

“One of the things which we will be implementing here in India is an Ads Transparency Centre where we will be providing users indicators on promoted tweets and political advertising such as it is a political advertisement and who paid for it,” Colin Crowell, Global Vice-President–Public Policy, Twitter, told The Hindu.

He added, “If you click on it, it will take you to a transparency dashboard which will give you additional information about the advertiser, including the tweets they are advertising and how much they are spending … we will be coordinating with the political candidates and the parties and the Election Commission to implement that.”

Mr. Crowell said the dashboard would be implemented soon and the U.S.-based firm is working with the Election Commission and political parties on how to implement it. The company has earlier piloted the Ads Transparency Centre during election in the U.S.

Asked about dealing with spread of mis-information via Twitter, he said different social media platforms operate in different ways. For Twitter, “the attribute that is probably most well known is that we are overwhelmingly public platform. As a result, we have what we consider to be certain strengths… because of that openness and its real-time nature when people share so called misinformation, the corrective can be there in real time.”

However, he admitted that the same openness can be misused by bad faith actors who may try to manipulate the platform, for which the company is investing in “technology antidotes.” “As is often the case in life, your greatest strength can be your vulnerability.”

Mr. Crowell said to deal with vulnerability of malicious automation, Twitter is investing in machine learning and looking at characteristics and behaviour of accounts to more readily and rapidly identify and address issues on the platform.

“We believe we are making significant headway in addressing that. Besides, addressing spam directly, there are occasions when we are not sure whether the account is automated from a bad faith actor or a real life human being behind the account. A year ago, we really ramped up challenging those account,” he said. When an account is challenged, it means that Twitter would prompt a user to type in and validate their accounts using a phone number or a recaptcha code.

“What was 2.2 million accounts a week [accounts challenged] over a year ago is now close to 10 million accounts a week. That is a significant ramp up in our ability to stem the tide of what might be problematic distribution and manipulation on the platform. Moreover, we are thwarting some half a million suspicious logins on Twitter,” he said.

Asked about trends specific to India regarding elections, Mr. Crowell said, “If you look at last election in India and the most recent State elections, the thing that is different on Twitter India is the rise of content that is not in English language.”

He pointed that the top trending hashtags in the recent State elections were not in English but in local languages.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2021 7:11:13 AM |

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