Twitter supports new online political advertising bill

Image result for twitter

Karen White, Director of Public Policy for Twitter in Europe was addressing the Oireachtas Communications Committee today

A senior executive from Twitter has said the social media giant supports a proposed new bill to achieve greater transparency in online political advertising.

Karen White, Director of Public Policy for Twitter in Europe was addressing the Oireachtas Communications Committee today, which is currently scrutinising the Online Advertising and Social Media Transparency Bill.

She said Twitter “appreciate what the bill is seeking to achieve and we are supportive of its goals.”

She said the bill mirrors what the company is trying to achieve around transparency in advertisements.

Ms White said Twitter also welcome the discussions that have taken place on the bill so far and “the overarching importance that has been placed on developing a legal framework that balances
the aim of transparency with facilitating and protecting, freedom of expression online.”

Last December, Fianna Fáil TD James Lawless tabled the bill in the Dáil aimed at achieving transparency in paid political advertising and tackle the deliberate usage of multiple fake accounts for political purposes, known as bots.

Mr Lawless, who is his party’s spokesperson on science, technology, research and development, today said his bill aims to apply the same level of scrutiny to online political advertising as currently applies to traditional means such as political posters.

Ms White stressed that protecting the integrity of elections is important for Twitter.

She said the company has direct lines of communication with governments, political parties, national election officials and electoral stakeholders across the EU.

Ahead of the 2019 European elections, the organisation has started the roll-out of a political ads policy; contributed to the code of conduct on disinformation and illegal hate speech; and engaged in safety and best practice training.

Sherry Perreault, head of Ethics and Lobbying Regulation, at the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) also appeared before the committee today.

She renewed calls for a comprehensive review of electoral laws and the creation of an electoral commission.

Speaking about electoral spending, Ms Perrault said SIPO would like to make recommendations around spending limits.

She said that in elections candidates must disclose their spending and keep it within expenditure limits. But she indicated that are currently no spending limits for referendums and this is something that she would like to see changed.