Saturday 21 September 2019

Twitter backs new Bill on online political ads


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Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Social media giant Twitter is expected to signal support for new legislation aimed at clamping down on political advertising online - but will warn against broad strokes in relation to so-called 'bots'.

The issue of bots - which are social media profiles programmed to automatically generate messages or take other actions online - emerged as a key concern during the 2016 US presidential election.

The tech company will appear before the Dáil's Communications Committee today as part of pre-legislative scrutiny of a Bill proposed by Fianna Fáil TD James Lawless, which aims to introduce more transparency on political ad spending and who is behind political ads.

The Online Advertising and Social Media (Transparency) Bill 2017 also looks to tackle orchestrated social media campaigns and phoney accounts.

The Bill has been opposed by the Government over concerns it would give rise to unintended consequences.

In an opening statement to the committee, Karen White, Twitter's director of public policy in Europe, says the company appreciates what the Bill is seeking to achieve and "we are supportive of its goals".

She says the Bill mirrors what the company is trying to achieve around transparency in advertisements.

However, the company will warn that not all bot use directed towards a political end is malicious and they can be used for positive political goals, such as voter registration drives.

Irish Independent

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