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Twitter to bring new dashboard for political ad transparency ahead of polls

With elections slated to be held in the coming months, the Indian government has taken a tough stance on the issue

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Twitter Inc Photo: Reuters
Twitter Inc Photo: Reuters

In an attempt to bring in political advertisements ahead of in India, Thursday said it will provide a new dashboard showing such expenditures by political parties on its platform.

The US-based company is also engaging with various stakeholders, including of (ECI), to verify candidates as well as train parties and election officials on using and teach them how to report suspicious, abusive, and rule-violating activity to

"We are going to implement here in something that we started this past election in the US, which is an that provides to the public so that users can take a look at spending on the platform during the course of the election," (Public Policy) said.

He added that the tool -- Centre -- will be made available over the course of next several weeks as the company is working on finer details of the features that will be offered in

With elections slated to be held in the coming months, the has taken a tough stance on the issue and warned platforms of strong action if any attempt was made to influence the country's electoral process through undesirable means.

It has recently also proposed to amend IT rules, wherein platforms and messaging apps will be required to deploy tools to "identify" and curb unlawful content as well as follow stricter due diligence practices. The IT ministry is seeking feedback from the public on the draft amendments before taking a final decision.

Crowell explained that the intent of bringing its Transparency Centre to India to provide information around who the advertiser is, the content that is being promoted, how much is being spent on the ad and whether the ad is running nationwide or in a particular geography.

"... because this is informative to users and to the larger conversation around how the election is playing out, (we can) be more transparent with people who use Twitter about what's happening on the platform, what's organic and what's promoted (tweet)," he said.

In the US, Twitter had tested election labels on some candidates, where clicking on the label would provide users additional information about the candidate that was furnished by a third-party.

Mahima Kaul, (Public Policy) for Twitter India, said in the Indian market, the company would get information on candidates from political parties to ensure that the information is coming from a trusted source.

"We look forward to continuing discussions with the EC of India as we move towards the 2019 Lok Sabha, and to supporting the EC as they seek to have a more proactive voice in the digital space, including on Twitter," she added.

Twitter collaborates with election officials around the world, including the of India, to ensure advertising by political parties on the platform is transparent.

Twitter said in addition to its policies, all political advertisers must comply with applicable laws regarding disclosure and content requirements, eligibility restrictions, and blackout dates for the locations where they advertise.

For advertising by political parties and candidates in India, Kaul said Twitter will ensure that all parties that want to advertise with Twitter have a certification by the

Besides, Twitter is also engaging with various political parties and candidates for verified accounts.

"We will be doing training on Twitter rules, preparatory sessions... we're also engaging with some organisations and NGOs (around voter education)," Crowell said.

Twitter which counts India among its priority markets already has a large number of politicians in the country on its platform, who engage with residents and extensively use it around elections.

Twitter has introduced a new initiative '#ChaupalOnTwitter' to encourage more civic discussion and participation between communities and their leaders through the platform.

Another initiative called '#PowerOf18' aims to encourage Indian youth to contribute to public debate and participate in civic engagement ahead of the upcoming elections.

On the proposed amendment in IT rules for intermediaries, Crowell said a "carefully crafted balance" needs to be struck between ensuring safety and security of users and steps that could impact free expression.

First Published: Thu, January 10 2019. 20:50 IST