X is lifting a ban it imposed on political ads in 2019, when it was known as Twitter. The platform has already lifted a ban on ads paid for by political causes. Now US candidates and parties can buy space again. Assuming they do, that will align X with most other platforms except TikTok, and with broadcast media, but it will attract a different order of scrutiny if only because Trump’s (free) tweeting played such a prominent role in his 2016 election win and his effort to overturn defeat four years later. In anticipation of that scrutiny X said yesterday it would beef up staffing to combat misinformation and would continue to ban ads that undermine confidence in the democratic process. X’s owner, Elon Musk, seems to be channelling the same two impulses in lifting the ban as he was in buying Twitter in the first place: to goad liberal worriers to apoplexy, and to make money. Between now and the 2024 election he will undoubtedly achieve the first of these, even if Trump so far has preferred to communicate unmediated with his base via his own Truth Social platform than to take advantage of being reinstated on X. The money is less of a slam dunk. X will earn plenty from political ads, but the advertisers on which it depended pre-Musk fled when he took over and are only creeping back. Last month Twitter reported ad revenues 50 per cent lower than the year before and forecast 2023 revenues of $3 billion, down from $5.1 billion in 2021.