SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter said on Tuesday that it would begin relaxing its longstanding ban on political ads, allowing advocacy groups and elected officials to resume promotions focused on specific causes.
Twitter, which was acquired by Elon Musk in October, had banned some forms of political advertising in 2019. At the time, the company argued that political influence should be earned rather than bought, with politicians gaining audiences by drumming up genuine interest in what they had to say instead of using money to amplify their messages.
Mr. Musk has said one of his goals in taking over Twitter was to loosen its rules about the kinds of content that would be allowed on the platform. The billionaire’s approach to content moderation has spooked major brands, some of which have paused their spending on Twitter to keep their ads from appearing alongside controversial tweets. That has caused Twitter’s revenue to fall significantly.
Twitter said on Tuesday that it would begin to permit cause-based advertising, which allows marketers to promote content about political issues. The company said it would later expand other forms of political advertising. Under its previous management, Twitter allowed cause-based advertising with some restrictions, including one that prevented advertisers from using microtargeting to reach specific groups of people.
“We believe that cause-based advertising can facilitate public conversation around important topics,” the company tweeted. “Moving forward, we will align our advertising policy with that of TV and other media outlets.”
The move could open Twitter to more revenue as it tries to lure advertisers back to the platform. National elections are not scheduled in the United States this year.
Twitter’s ban on political ads was at odds with policies at Facebook and other major social media companies, which allow elected officials and candidates to purchase ads. The 2019 decision was met with an outcry from conservatives and liberals, who argued that the restrictions would hamper political campaigns and unfairly block some advocacy organizations from spreading their messages.