X no longer labels ads for certain users

X no longer labels ads for certain users

X Users Unmask Unlabeled Ads: A Sneaky Advertising Surprise

Have you ever been scrolling through your X feed, only to come across a post from an account you don’t follow, and realize it’s actually an advertisement? Well, you’re not alone. X users have recently reported seeing ads on their feeds without any disclosure or labeling. These paid ads, cleverly disguised as organic tweets, can show up in both the “For You” feed and the “Following” tab. It seems that X, under the ownership of Elon Musk, may have removed these ad labels, but it’s unclear whether it was intentional or just a temporary glitch.

The issue of unlabeled ads was brought to light by Nandini Jammi, co-founder of the adtech watchdog nonprofit Check My Ads. After a user provided a screenshot of an ad served to them without a label, many others shared their own screenshots of ad sightings. This lack of labeling not only misleads consumers but also violates guidelines set by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on deceptively formatted ads.

The FTC has been clear that paid advertisements must be marked clearly to avoid misleading consumers. In 2013, the FTC warned search engine providers about inadequate labeling of ads on their platforms. They emphasized the importance of text-based labels on each ad. In recent years, the guidelines have been updated to include the requirement for celebrities and influencers to disclose when a company pays for a sponsored social media post or video. It seems X may have forgotten the importance of these guidelines.

Unmasking the Unlabeled Ads on X

If you’re wondering how to identify these sneaky unlabeled ads on X, it’s actually quite simple. When you see a post from an account you don’t follow, click or tap on the three-dot icon in the upper right-hand corner of the post. If the post is organic, the menu provides the option to follow the account. However, if it’s an ad, the menu offers additional options such as “Not interested in this ad,” accompanied by a sad face emoji. Furthermore, there are options specific to ads on X, including “Report ad” and “Why this ad?” Users noticed that these menu options only appeared on paid ads, confirming the lack of labeling.

To make matters worse, these unlabeled ads are not third-party ads like the sponsored posts we often see from celebrities and influencers. X serves these ads directly through its advertising platform, indicating that they are being paid by advertisers to run the ads across the social network. In fact, the internal system at X recognizes these posts as advertisements, which is why the additional menu items show up. Yet, X fails to provide a public label or disclosure to inform consumers.

Confusing Ad Disclosures and the Experimentation Gone Wrong

This isn’t the first time X’s ad labeling has confused users. In July, the platform began experimenting with new ad disclosures, replacing the traditional “Promoted” label with a smaller “Ad” label in the upper right-hand corner of the tweet. However, X appears to be switching between the two labels, causing further confusion for users. It’s important to check for either label at the top or bottom of a post before jumping to conclusions about being served an unlabeled ad.

It’s worth noting that the treatment of video ads is also different on X. The platform offers Twitter Amplify, a revenue-sharing program for brand partners that allows video pre-roll ads to appear before organic videos. These video ads have a disclosure label overlay at the bottom of the video itself, rather than on the post.

As of now, X has yet to provide an official response. When ENBLE reached out for clarification, they received an automated response stating, “Busy now, please check back later.” This leaves users and advertisers alike wondering if there will be any resolution to the lack of ad labeling on X.

In conclusion, the appearance of unlabeled ads on X is a cause for concern. Not only does it mislead users, but it also violates FTC guidelines. X needs to address this issue promptly and provide clear, transparent labeling for all ads on their platform. Users should remain vigilant and use the menu options to report any misleading or unlabeled ads they come across. Transparency is key in maintaining trust between users, advertisers, and social media platforms.