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6 big questions users should be asking about political advertising on X/Twitter



6 big questions users should be asking about political advertising on X/Twitter

Federal election season is around the corner, and with social media platforms taking over as go-to repositories of information, digital campaigning is as important as ever. 

On Aug. 29, Elon Musk‘s X (formerly Twitter) announced a reversal of its 4-year-old policy banning political campaign ads from the social platform. According to a quietly-added “safety” brief and updated ads policy, the company would begin allowing political advertising — halted in 2019 following concerns about disinformation and election tampering via social media sites — from candidates and political parties. 

The Dorsey-era policy reversal was a notable change, with many media outlets and X onlookers noting that the move could be a quick money-making decision on a platform that has steadily lost its advertising revenue. It wasn’t entirely a surprise, either, as X eased its restrictions on what it deems “political content” and cause-based ads in January. 

The announcement couldn’t have come at a more turbulent time for the platform, raising questions on what users should expect to encounter in light of the platform’s public image as a “digital town square” for unfettered free speech. Since its purchase and rebranding, X has consistently failed third-party reviews of its safety and content moderation policies, becoming the worst-ranked major platform for LGBTQ user safety. Just this month, a social media analysis by Climate Action Against Disinformation failed X on its handling of misinformation, finding the platform has no clear policy nor transparency on how it addresses climate denial content, and giving it a ranked score of just one out of 21 points.

This week, the platform removed the option to report posts as “misleading information.” A few days later, despite a commitment to building out a team to monitor the new political space, X allegedly issued additional cuts in staffing to its disinformation and election integrity team, the Information reported. Musk seemed to confirm the news, posting to X: “Oh you mean the ‘Election Integrity’ Team that was undermining election integrity? Yeah, they’re gone.” Meanwhile, X CEO Linda Yaccarino countered the statement, telling CNBC that the team was “growing.” According to Insider, X said its Trust and Safety division has been restructured, with responsibilities related to “disinformation, impersonation, and election integrity” being redistributed.

Among the many moderation changes, X has taken on a strategy of slowly allowing formerly restricted content (and accounts) back on the site — a move that was forecast to bring money back into the company’s pockets. In August, X announced a new “sensitivity threshold” for advertisers, allowing brands to select the amount of “sensitive content,” including hate speech, allowed to appear near their ads in a user’s feed.

But, while X/Twitter as a brand acknowledges the complications of bringing back accounts sharing unsubstantiated information and hate speech, its CEO has repeatedly placed blame elsewhere. Musk has been so combative to worries about X’s content, not even nonprofit watchdogs are safe from retaliation to criticism.

All this to say: Political campaign advertising on X warrants close inspection.

Peter Adams is the senior vice president of research and design at the News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan education nonprofit combating the spread of misinformation and fostering the growth of news and media literacy. In an interview with Mashable, Adams explained X’s decision was an expected outcome of growing concern after the 2016 election. 

“The response post-2016 was to tighten everything up very quickly,” Adams says. “I think all social media platforms were caught flat-footed in 2016 by the ways that people were targeting audiences and manipulating ads platforms… And now we’ve seen a slow loosening up post-2020. So, I’m not surprised that [X] is starting to allow political content, but there are real concerns around how people will use promoted content.”

Pushing this content into a social media environment where all posts are designed to look similar — during a period of company-wide reorganization worrying many social and political advocates — is a potentially dangerous misinformation gamble. Onlookers, then, should be equipped to scroll with some questions in mind. 

How will X ensure users have relevant information at their fingertips?

While the world of political campaigning is a complex beast, advertisements themselves are designed to be approachable to a wide base — eye-grabbing, relatable, or controversial enough to capture the attention of (hopefully) millions. The public should be equipped to recognize and assess these ads, but social media’s simplicity doesn’t always make that easy, Adams explains. 

Adams pointed out that X’s demolition of its developer API and the desktop-enabled TweetDeck (now “XPro”) has further restricted the tools people have used to navigate and research content on the platform. 

Under previous terms, third-party developers used API access to create observant, automatic accounts that spotted political bots, aggregated threads and conversations, and added a level of accessibility for users with disabilities, among hundreds of other uses. TweetDeck allowed individuals and news organizations to monitor multiple feeds, accounts, and curated Twitter lists all at once — combatting algorithmic-based follower feeds. X has, fortunately, carved out API use for public services, but the remaining restrictions complicate user experience, Adams says.

“It’s an important sort of transparency tool that has already been done away with, and also a powerful curation tool that folks used to track hashtags and events and groups of people in real time.”

X also has yet to outline its AI use or disclosure policies for political campaigning. This month, Google released its new policy for use of AI in political ads appearing on Google sites and YouTube; even TikTok has added guidelines for disclosures of AI-generated creator content.

“We haven’t yet experienced an election in the age of Midjourney and other image- and video-based generative AI that have rapidly developed in the last couple of years. Detecting, moderating, and labeling AI-generated visuals especially, is key,” Adams advises. “People should be looking for every platform to have a clearly stated policy on that, and that protects people from being duped into believing something that’s fabricated.”

Will X address its blue check problem?

X also has whittled away at platform-wide trust by invalidating the meaning behind Twitter’s pioneering blue check verification system, which once signaled to users that they were (at least likely) interacting with a real account, verified to be who they claim to be. Musk’s takeover and rebranding shifted this approval model to a paid model, effectively killing the check’s meaning and allowing anyone to sport the badge for a fee.

Users, Adams fears, may still interpret checks as a sign of veracity, and for political campaigning, blue checks may pose another hurdle in a users’ ability to distinguish fact from advertisement. 

“For legacy users of the platform, there’s this Pavlovian connection between a blue check and ‘authentic.’ I worry about that habitual, almost subconscious connection between a blue check and prominence or significance. Now we have people with a few dozen followers with blue checks whose posts may gain a little more credibility in some people’s minds because they have that legacy symbol, which was never a symbol of credibility.”

When does political content become a political campaign?

The language of X’s new ads policy, and how it differentiates political content versus overt campaigning, gives Adams pause, as well. 

According to the company: “Political content ads are defined as ads that reference a candidate, political party, elected or appointed government official, election, referendum, ballot measure, legislation, regulation, directive, or judicial outcome.” 

Political campaigning advertisements, on the other hand, advocate for or against a candidate or political party; appeal directly for votes in an election, referendum, or ballot measure; solicit financial support for an election, referendum, or ballot measure; or are from registered PACs and SuperPACs.

The definitions leave questions to be answered in real time and at high stakes, given that political content ads, political campaigning ads, and other forms of content are subject to different guidelines and standards.

“It seems a bit narrow to me,” says Adams. “That doesn’t seem to me to be broad enough to cover divisive social issues that could be misrepresented. We know from 2016 that folks seeking to divide Americans were very active around those issues. It’s good that the policy explicitly prohibits groups or individuals from placing ads to target audiences in a different country, I just have questions about how that will be enforced.”

The lack of specificity for social issue-based campaigning also stirs up worries of greater political and social polarization, Adams explains, possibly “ramping up antipathy between conservatives and liberals or exacerbating racial animosity in the U.S.”

“I think that the policy has to cover stuff that’s not explicitly related to a campaign or a piece of legislation or an election.”

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Can users effectively differentiate between political campaign advertisements and other posts?

Public understanding of advertising disclosures, moderation processes, and media literacy also will determine the new policy’s impact on potential voters, and the platform’s broader information culture. 

“From our point of view, we know that the public has a difficult time differentiating between organic posts and paid posts,” explains Adams. “Spotting non-traditional advertising, even things like branded content, can be really tricky for people to pick up on, especially in a setting that’s optimized for scrolling and quick feeds.”

Spotting advertisements online is just step one. In the X Ads Help Center, the platform’s political content FAQs direct U.S. users to a disclosure report form which they can complete “to find out details about all political campaigning ads running on our platform.” In April, X came under fire for already failing to publicly disclose some political content ads after the January policy change.

“Even if you notice the sponsor posts, taking the time to see who’s behind it and who funded it is a whole other step that very few people are going to take, unless there’s a conservative effort to encourage that. I think the more transparency that platforms can provide around this, the better,” says Adams. 

“No matter how many ways advertisers come up with to try to reach people, the questions people should be asking, and the things we should be looking for, largely remain the same. They should ask: What kind of information am I looking at? What is it? What is its primary purpose?” For ads, specifically, that means “keeping up with all the forms that ads can take, and noticing the ways that they are labeled or disclosed, which are often very subtle.”

Clear, accessible labeling of political content and campaign advertisements — notably separate from commercial advertisements — should be incorporated into this policy decision, Adams says.

“Political ads should have a different and more prominent label than just every other kind of sponsored post,” he advises. “And there should be real attention drawn to them. They should link to more information about that ad directly, like to the entry on that ad in the [global advertising transparency center]. So you could click a label and learn more about the ad, see who it’s targeted at, how many people it’s reaching, and so on.”

How transparent will X’s “global advertising transparency center” be in practice?

X’s new policy decision seems to lean heavily on the presence of a yet-to-be-created global advertising transparency center, expanding its current Transparency Center into something potentially more similar to Meta’s own advertising Transparency Center, which centralizes its content moderation policies, transparency reports, and other resources on platform security and misinformation.

But Adams says X’s version, still in its early days, is already too loosely defined. “It’s ironic to be opaque about a transparency center.”

The new center’s introduction reportedly is being met with expansion of “safety and elections teams” dedicated to moderating these paid placement posts, according to an Aug. 29 X Safety blog on political advertising, as many doubt X’s readiness ahead of the presidential election.

But the company has repeatedly diminished staffing for similar moderating efforts, even prior to this week’s reported election integrity team reductions. By mid-November 2022, Musk had cut thousands of staff including many responsible for content moderation, trust and safety, and civic integrity. In January, the company let go even more content moderation staff across its global offices.

“To turn around and promise that they’re going to grow those teams — why did you shrink it in the first place?” asks Adams. “In the case of content moderation, folks and former staffers have come forward to suggest that there were particularly deep cuts in that area, and particular disregard to monitoring and removing harmful content.”

To achieve actual transparency, the platform must also be clear about exactly what this center will provide to users, not just advertisers, Adams asserts. Will the center include information on all political advertisements, and what data will it include? “What about ads you reject?” Adams suggests. “Could you document the number of rejected ads? Document who is trying to place ads on the platform? When are [ads] being rejected and why? Those kinds of data points are useful and important.”

Can X combat the “infinite scroll” problem?

X will also be up against users’ in-app behaviors, most importantly the addictive structure of “infinite scrolling” common on most, if not all, social platforms. A desktop- or web browser-based transparency center — or ad information that takes users outside of the X app — serves little to no purpose for recreational users incentivized to stay glued to their feeds. 

“There would be a disconnect between the people who are seeing most of these ads and people accessing [the center]. The vast majority of these audiences are looking at the platform on mobile. So if they can’t click through to at least some part of the global advertising transparency center from mobile, that would be a mess,” says Adams. 

And in a growing age of declining media and news literacy, quick access to vetting tools, reliable sources, and nonpartisan information is paramount. 

“My big concern is that no matter what they say, virtually every platform falls short of its moderation policies, of its stated ideal,” warns Adams. “That’s something for the public, and for the press, to watch — to hold them accountable to their own stated policies. It feels like there’s a real danger that they will just be paying lip service to this, rather than doing what’s best for democracy.”

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12 Proven Methods to Make Money Blogging in 2024



Make money blogging


Make money bloggingThis is a contributed article.

The world of blogging continues to thrive in 2024, offering a compelling avenue for creative minds to share their knowledge, build an audience, and even turn their passion into profit. Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or just starting, there are numerous effective strategies to monetize your blog and achieve financial success. Here, we delve into 12 proven methods to make money blogging in 2024:

1. Embrace Niche Expertise:

Standing out in the vast blogosphere requires focus. Carving a niche allows you to cater to a specific audience with targeted content. This not only builds a loyal following but also positions you as an authority in your chosen field. Whether it’s gardening techniques, travel hacking tips, or the intricacies of cryptocurrency, delve deep into a subject you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Targeted audiences are more receptive to monetization efforts, making them ideal for success.

2. Content is King (and Queen):

High-quality content remains the cornerstone of any successful blog. In 2024, readers crave informative, engaging, and well-written content that solves their problems, answers their questions, or entertains them. Invest time in crafting valuable blog posts, articles, or videos that resonate with your target audience.

  • Focus on evergreen content: Create content that remains relevant for a long time, attracting consistent traffic and boosting your earning potential.
  • Incorporate multimedia: Spice up your content with captivating images, infographics, or even videos to enhance reader engagement and improve SEO.
  • Maintain consistency: Develop a regular publishing schedule to build anticipation and keep your audience coming back for more.

3. The Power of SEO:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ensures your blog ranks high in search engine results for relevant keywords. This increases organic traffic, the lifeblood of any monetization strategy.

  • Keyword research: Use keyword research tools to identify terms your target audience searches for. Strategically incorporate these keywords into your content naturally.
  • Technical SEO: Optimize your blog’s loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and overall technical aspects to improve search engine ranking.
  • Backlink building: Encourage other websites to link back to your content, boosting your blog’s authority in the eyes of search engines.

4. Monetization Magic: Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products or services. When a reader clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you get a commission.

  • Choose relevant affiliates: Promote products or services that align with your niche and resonate with your audience.
  • Transparency is key: Disclose your affiliate relationships clearly to your readers and build trust.
  • Integrate strategically: Don’t just bombard readers with links. Weave affiliate promotions naturally into your content, highlighting the value proposition.

5. Display Advertising: A Classic Approach

Display advertising involves placing banner ads, text ads, or other visual elements on your blog. When a reader clicks on an ad, you earn revenue.

  • Choose reputable ad networks: Partner with established ad networks that offer competitive rates and relevant ads for your audience.
  • Strategic ad placement: Place ads thoughtfully, avoiding an overwhelming experience for readers.
  • Track your performance: Monitor ad clicks and conversions to measure the effectiveness of your ad placements and optimize for better results.

6. Offer Premium Content:

Providing exclusive, in-depth content behind a paywall can generate additional income. This could be premium blog posts, ebooks, online courses, or webinars.

  • Deliver exceptional value: Ensure your premium content offers significant value that justifies the price tag.
  • Multiple pricing options: Consider offering tiered subscription plans to cater to different audience needs and budgets.
  • Promote effectively: Highlight the benefits of your premium content and encourage readers to subscribe.

7. Coaching and Consulting:

Leverage your expertise by offering coaching or consulting services related to your niche. Readers who find your content valuable may be interested in personalized guidance.

  • Position yourself as an expert: Showcase your qualifications, experience, and client testimonials to build trust and establish your credibility.
  • Offer free consultations: Provide a limited free consultation to potential clients, allowing them to experience your expertise firsthand.
  • Develop clear packages: Outline different coaching or consulting packages with varying time commitments and pricing structures.

8. The Power of Community: Online Events and Webinars

Host online events or webinars related to your niche. These events offer valuable content while also providing an opportunity to promote other monetization avenues.

  • Interactive and engaging: Structure your online events to be interactive with polls, Q&A sessions, or live chats. Click here to learn more about image marketing with Q&A sessions and live chats.

9. Embrace the Power of Email Marketing:

Building an email list allows you to foster stronger relationships with your audience and promote your content and offerings directly.

  • Offer valuable incentives: Encourage readers to subscribe by offering exclusive content, discounts, or early access to new products.
  • Segmentation is key: Segment your email list based on reader interests to send targeted campaigns that resonate more effectively.
  • Regular communication: Maintain consistent communication with your subscribers through engaging newsletters or updates.

10. Sell Your Own Products:

Take your expertise to the next level by creating and selling your own products. This could be physical merchandise, digital downloads, or even printables related to your niche.

  • Identify audience needs: Develop products that address the specific needs and desires of your target audience.
  • High-quality offerings: Invest in creating high-quality products that offer exceptional value and user experience.
  • Utilize multiple platforms: Sell your products through your blog, online marketplaces, or even social media platforms.

11. Sponsorships and Brand Collaborations:

Partner with brands or businesses relevant to your niche for sponsored content or collaborations. This can be a lucrative way to leverage your audience and generate income.

  • Maintain editorial control: While working with sponsors, ensure you retain editorial control to maintain your blog’s authenticity and audience trust.
  • Disclosures are essential: Clearly disclose sponsored content to readers, upholding transparency and ethical practices.
  • Align with your niche: Partner with brands that complement your content and resonate with your audience.

12. Freelancing and Paid Writing Opportunities:

Your blog can serve as a springboard for freelance writing opportunities. Showcase your writing skills and expertise through your blog content, attracting potential clients.

  • Target relevant publications: Identify online publications, websites, or magazines related to your niche and pitch your writing services.
  • High-quality samples: Include high-quality blog posts from your site as writing samples when pitching to potential clients.
  • Develop strong writing skills: Continuously hone your writing skills and stay updated on current trends in your niche to deliver exceptional work.


Building a successful blog that generates income requires dedication, strategic planning, and high-quality content. In today’s digital age, there are numerous opportunities to make money online through blogging. By utilizing a combination of methods such as affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and selling digital products or services, you can leverage your blog’s potential and achieve financial success.

Remember, consistency in posting, engaging with your audience, and staying adaptable to trends are key to thriving in the ever-evolving blogosphere. Embrace new strategies, refine your approaches, and always keep your readers at the forefront of your content creation journey. With dedication and the right approach, your blog has the potential to become a valuable source of income and a platform for sharing your knowledge and passion with the world, making money online while doing what you love.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?




Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach



Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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