Company

Protecting the integrity of the election conversation in Australia

By Kara Hinesley
Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Improving the collective health of the public conversation is our number one priority as a company, and protecting the integrity of elections is an essential part of our mission.

As a real-time, live service, we seek to be the world’s window into the critical election conversations happening right across Twitter between candidates, voters, journalists, political parties, civil society, electoral commissions, and the public at large.

We’re already working proactively to support and protect these conversations, and today we’re detailing some of the additional steps we’re taking ahead of the 2019 #AusVotes election.

Expanding our political campaign ads policy ahead of the federal election in Australia

Today, we’re excited to announce that we are expanding our Political Campaigning Policy and transparency approach into Australia, providing the public with an additional layer of insight into who is running political ads on Twitter around the upcoming federal election.

In the Ads Transparency Center, you can view Promoted Tweets that ran on Twitter within the last seven days, from any Twitter handle. For political advertisers in Australia that fall under the Political Campaigning Policy that are advertising around the federal election, you will be able to see further details including billing information, ad spend, demographic targeting data, and impressions data per Tweet. We are also making it clearer who is advertising Australian political campaign content on Twitter around the federal election, by including a visual label and disclaimer information on promoted content from certified accounts.

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Candidates, political parties, organisations, and individuals seeking to advertise electioneering content must undergo a thorough verification process to self-certify. Once proof of identity is verified and advertisers meet our eligibility requirements, a letter with an access code will be posted to their address to confirm they are located within Australia. We will also include additional authorisation information on electioneering content at a Tweet-level to ensure that people communicating electoral matter are accountable for their communications, and that this is clear to people seeing political advertising on Twitter. Political advertisers must apply now for certification and enforcement of this policy will begin the week of March 11.

Cross-functional elections team

In addition to increased transparency around political ads, we’ve also formed a high-level internal elections group to lead our electoral integrity work from now through polling day. Using our proprietary-built internal tools, the team will proactively protect Australian trends, support partner escalations, and identify potential threats from malicious actors.

Cross-functional by design, the team consists of several of the company’s top trust and safety experts, as well as members of our site integrity, legal, engineering, data science investigations, and public policy teams. This blend of perspectives, expertise, and backgrounds is absolutely critical.

It is similar to the model we put in place for other recent elections around the world, including the U.S., Mexico, and Brazil.  As we move forward, we will continue with this model of bringing in additional expertise and personnel who can augment our approach, growing the level experience from one critical election to the next.

Promoting media literacy and healthy campaigning on Twitter

In the lead up to elections, we work closely with political parties across the spectrum to train them on using Twitter to engage with their constituents, distribute media literacy resources, and promote healthy, constructive participation in the democratic conversation.

Our public verification process is currently closed; however with the upcoming elections, we are working with political parties to verify candidates, elected officials, and relevant party officials whose accounts will be active in the public conversation.

We’ll also launch a special election emoji to encourage public engagement and participatory civic conversation.

Serving the public conversation in Australia

Over the last year, we have led and supported a range of local initiatives in Australia to help serve the public conversation and contribute to democratic discourse. These include:

  • Working with the Walkley Foundation to provide workshops that explored how to build influence and audience on Twitter, as well as cover global best practice for staying competitive and standing out in the right way with practical tips for safety on Twitter.
  • Introducing #SetTheStandard, an initiative focused on providing an equal platform for women and helping them use their voice to influence conversations on Twitter. Through #SetTheStandard, we’re working to educate women about how to both communicate fearlessly while being safe online and also showcasing role models across different industries that show up, speak up, and get things done.
  • Partnering with the Kennedy Foundation, a news charity that seeks to support journalists and media professionals facing hardship, Twitter sponsored both the Kennedy Award for 2018 Young Journalist of the Year and the 2018 Les Kennedy Scholarship for Indigenous Journalism Students, which supports an Indigenous student from regional NSW studying journalism at the University of Technology Sydney.
  • Working with the Australian Press Council to host a panel discussion on #WPFD about the importance of press freedom in Australia and the essential role individual journalists and news organisations play in providing needed context to local and world events, like elections.
  • Joining ONA Australia, the Australian arm of the world’s largest association for digital journalists the Online News Association, we hosted our #AusVotes 2019 panel event to kick off the upcoming campaign period and discuss the major policy issues surrounding the 2019 Federal Election.  

The public conversation occurring on Twitter is never more important than during elections, the cornerstone of any democracy. Twitter shows the world what is happening, democratizes access to information and—at its best—provides people insights into a diversity of perspectives on critical issues in real-time.

Our dedicated cross functional team is working hard to protect the health of the public conversation in Australia around the election and to positively enhance people’s experience of #AusVotes 2019.

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@karahinesley

Kara Hinesley

‎@karahinesley‎

Head of Public Policy, Australia and New Zealand

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