Twitter Lifts Ban on COVID-19-Related Ads, But Only for Specific Cases

April 6th, 2020 4:49 PM

Twitter quietly lifted its ban on coronavirus-related ads in early April, so long as companies play by a very specific set of rules.

“Twitter and Google banned coronavirus-related ads in an effort to curb misinformation and stop some bad actors from trying to profit off of the crisis,” Axios summarized in its April 3 coverage.

Since then, however, Twitter has refined its approach, “according to a note from Twitter sent to clients on Friday that was obtained and confirmed by Axios.” The exception now allows for ad campaigns regarding company-wide adjustments to their business model or those campaigns expressing support for customers and employees in this time of unease.

When reached for comment by NewsBusters TechWatch on whether this will allow politicians to post campaign ads on the platform surrounding the handling or mishandling of COVID-19, Twitter said it was sticking with its ban on political ads:

“We've updated our policy to allow for managed advertisers to reference COVID-19/coronavirus implicitly or explicitly in ad copy if the client falls under specific approved cases. You can see our full policy here. Our global ban on political advertising still applies.”

“Covid and the coronavirus are happening in real-time in society today,” Twitter VP Global Client Solutions Sarah Personette commented, according to Ad Age, “And we want to make sure that they can scale and share these messages in the most brand safe way possible.”

Personette explained the massive shift and its implications further in Ad Age’s coverage:

“It’s a shift that we’re making from an ads policy perspective because we believe that the messaging that brands and businesses can provide to the world and provide to consumers are going to be positively received.”

She continued by suggesting that “they’re going to be positively received because they are talking about what they as brands and businesses are doing themselves in the face of this crisis, and also what their employees and customers need to understand or be informed about in the face of this crisis.”

One example cited in the article was an advertisement by ridesharing app Uber, “Stay home if you can. And with drivers, delivery people, and restaurants, we’ll help #MoveWhatMatters.”

The ad went on to proclaim that the company will provide “10 million free rides and deliveries of food for frontline healthcare workers, seniors, and people in need.”

The rules for what content is allowed, and from whom, will have razor sharp restrictions, Ad Age summarized:

Twitter says only “managed clients” can mention coronavirus, which means only brands with a direct relationship with the company's ads team can run these types of promoted tweets. Those advertisers can mention coronavirus in two manners: To promote how business practices have changed to adapt to coronavirus or to show support for employees and customers, Twitter's new guidelines say.