After taking considerable criticism from pro-life advocates across the country, social media giant Twitter has reversed its decision refusing to run ads promoting a campaign commercial from a top pro-life Congresswoman exposing Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted baby parts.
Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn announced her plans to run for U.S. Senate last week in her home state of Tennessee. On Monday, however, her campaign said Twitter refused to allow it to advertise a video where Blackburn mentions the abortion chain Planned Parenthood and its sales of aborted baby body parts.
“I know the left calls me a wing-nut or a knuckle-dragging conservative,” Blackburn said in the video. “And you know what? I say, that’s all right, bring it on. I’m 100-percent pro-life. I fought Planned Parenthood and we stopped the sale of baby body parts, thank God.”
According to a company statement, “Twitter found that statement to be inflammatory and ‘likely to evoke a strong negative reaction.’” A Twitter representative reportedly told Blackburn’s vendors that they “would be allowed to run the rest of the video if the flagged statement is omitted.”
This meant the Blackburn campaign can’t pay to promote the video on Twitter, but it can still be linked to from YouTube and other media platforms. That’s just what Blackburn did, tweeting to her followers that Twitter “shut down our video ad, claiming it’s “inflammatory” & “negative.” Join me in standing up to Silicon Valley ? RETWEET our message!”
A Twitter spokesperson said Tuesday: “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.”
The Blackburn campaign said it was was pleased with the reversal. The congresswoman raised money off the decision on Monday, saying that “Silicon Valley elites” were trying to “impose their values.”
“It’s a real shame that this censorship happened in the first place,” said Andrea Bozek, a Blackburn spokeswoman. “While Marsha is disappointed that they attempted to censor her pro-life record, we are pleased they have reconsidered their decision. This is just the latest example of Marsha’s leadership. She will never back down from standing up for our conservative values.”
The Tennessee Republican has established herself as a champion for the rights of unborn babies. The eight-term congresswoman has a 100-percent pro-life voting record.
Most recently, she chaired the U.S. House Select Panel on Infant Lives, which investigated Planned Parenthood’s sales of aborted baby body parts. In January, the committee sent numerous criminal and regulatory referrals to federal and state officials regarding Planned Parenthood and other groups involved in the baby body parts trade.
It was this reference to her work that Twitter opposed in the online ad.
Twitter has blocked other pro-life advertisements in the past.
In September, Live Action, the youth-centered pro-life organization known for its undercover investigations of Planned Parenthood, accused Twitter of censoring its ads. Live Action and founder Lila Rose said the social media site blocked their accounts’ ability to advertise. They still can send tweets to their followers, but the advertising block restricts them from reaching a wider audience.
Especially egregious about Twitter’s rejections were its requirements to accept future ads from Live Action. The pro-life group said the social media company wants Live Action to remove “sensitive content” from its own website, not just its Twitter page.
Twitter, Google, Facebook and other online companies have faced heavy criticism for restricting ads, especially from pro-life and conservative groups. Many believe these media giants show a strong liberal bias.
In May, Facebook shut down Right to Life of Michigan’s advertising account for “misleading ads.” After repeatedly asking for more details, the pro-life organization was told that Facebook simply was “unable to take further action regarding this matter.” The pro-life group believes the issue involved an ad about a Michigan abortionist whose license was suspended.