UPDATE: Oct. 10, 2017, 6:35 p.m. EDT Twitter has reversed its decision and will now allow the ad to be promoted through its platform.
A Twitter spokesperson said in a statement:
Our ads policies strive to balance protecting our users from potentially distressing content while allowing our advertisers to communicate their messages. Nowhere is this more difficult than in the realm of political advertising and the highly charged issues that are often addressed therein.
After further review, we have made the decision to allow the content in question from Rep. Blackburn’s campaign ad to be promoted on our ads platform. While we initially determined that a small portion of the video used potentially inflammatory language, after reconsidering the ad in the context of the entire message, we believe that there is room to refine our policies around these issues. We have notified Rep. Blackburn’s campaign of this decision.”
Twitter just proved it can and it will crack down on political ads.
Twitter banned a campaign ad on Monday from Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn in which she claimed to have helped stop the “sale of baby body parts” from abortions by defunding Planned Parenthood, the Associated Press reported.
Twitter reportedly told the Blackburn campaign the video contained an “inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction,” and therefore could not be shared as an ad. Blackburn’s campaign had been pushing the ad through promoted tweets.
A Twitter representative also told the Blackburn campaign that the ad would be able to run again on the social network if the statement related to abortions was removed, according to the AP.
Twitter’s ban means users will not see the video unless they follow Blackburn or another user who puts the video in their feed.
“Promoted Tweets from @VoteMarsha were suspended for violating Twitter’s advertising . The account is not suspended, nor are the the account has sent containing the same video from the promoted Tweets,” a Twitter spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement to Mashable.
This move by Twitter comes as the network is being scrutinized for its role in spreading fake news during the 2016 election, some of which were ads linked to Russian accounts. Lawmakers are now discussing ways to regulate political ads on digital platforms.
Twitter also has a reputation for spreading hate speech. Some activists and lawmakers say the network needs to do more to take down offensive content. Others, like users of competitor website Gab, accuse Twitter of censorship.
New York Times reporter John Herrman joked that perhaps ad’s removal was all a test by Twitter as it tries to balance its free speech principle with the rampant abuse across the platform.
is this some bad-faith self-own so they can tell us they have to remain “hands-off” running their platform?
— John Herrman (@jwherrman) October 9, 2017
Rep. Blackburn reportedly shared her grievances on Twitter, but it appears that the tweets have since been removed.
The move frustrated some Twitter users who saw it as conflicting to the company’s other efforts.
Another Twitter user saw it as fuel to the fire for Blackburn’s campaign.
Rep. Blackburn responded with another video on Twitter.
Rep. Blackburn is currently running for the seat of Sen. Bob Corker, who announced his retirement last month. The Republican senator from Tennessee has been involved in a Twitter scandal of his own for the past few days, but for quite different reasons. Over the weekend, Sen. Corker described the White House as an “adult day care center” shortly after President Trump tweeted several negative statements about him.
Rep. Blackburn’s stance on abortion rights is nothing new. She chaired a House panel to investigate Planned Parenthood. Earlier this year, that Republican-run panel asked Congress to stop federal funding to the organization.
The video on Twitter also included footage of Rep. Blackburn shooting a gun and talking about Republicans’ failed effort to repeal Obamacare, according to the AP.
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