Another pro-life group had its ads shut down on Facebook this month, adding to growing concerns about censorship on popular social media sites.
The Wexford/Missaukee Right to Life, an affiliate of Right to Life of Michigan, noticed on Oct. 4 that its advertising account on Facebook had been shut down. The group said it still is not sure why.
“I have heard that Facebook is run and managed by a group of biased liberals under the management of Mark Zuckerberg,” said Don Hoitenga, who manages the pro-life group’s Facebook page. “I can now believe the rumors as I have been banned from advertising on Facebook.”
When the group asked for an explanation, it received this response: “There’s no further action you may take here. We don’t support ads for your business model.” The email from Facebook also said its decision is final.
The Michigan pro-life group said Facebook did not directly inform them that their ad account was being shut down; they only discovered it when they were trying to buy additional advertising.
Barbara Listing, president of RTL of Michigan, urged the social media giant to be more transparent with its advertising policies and procedures. Earlier this year, Facebook also blocked her organization’s advertising account. It later reinstated the account after the news media drew attention to the matter.
“We achieved no results working through Facebook’s customer service department and the Better Business Bureau. Facebook only appears to respond to media attention to fix what they claim is a simple mistake,” Listing said.
“Are these bans automated? Does a human being respond to questions from users? Does Facebook think they can get away with censoring smaller pages and users because they can’t draw attention? These are questions Facebook must respond to if they truly want to build community trust,” Listing added.
Pro-life Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn experienced something similar earlier this month when Twitter refused to run her advertisement.
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Twitter did not like that Blackburn mentioned Planned Parenthood’s sales of aborted baby body parts and told her to remove the phrase if she wanted to run the ad. However, Twitter later reversed its decision and allowed Blackburn to run the full ad after LifeNews and other news outlets reported about the matter.
Facebook and Twitter have blocked other pro-life advertisements in the past as well.
In September, Live Action, the youth-centered pro-life organization known for its undercover investigations of Planned Parenthood, said Twitter has been censoring its ads. Live Action founder Lila Rose said the social media site blocked their accounts’ ability to advertise and told the group to change information on its website if it wants to start advertising again.
Twitter also refused to run an ad from the Susan B. Anthony List this fall because it contained the phrase “killing babies.”
“No advertiser is permitted to use the phrase ‘killing babies.’ That’s what Twitter told us when they censored one of our videos,” explained Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA List.
In 2016, a Maryland pro-life pregnancy center also had its ad initially rejected by Facebook. The social media site tagged the phrase “if you are pregnant” as objectionable, likening it to “if you are fat.” Facebook later approved the ad after the pro-life group modified the phrase.
In 2015, Facebook also refused to allow Live Action News to advertise one of its stories because “the image or video thumbnail may shock or evoke a negative response from viewers.” The image was of baby Eli Thompson who was born without a nose.
Facebook became a subject of national news last year after some of its workers admitted that they suppressed conservative news stories in favor of liberal ones. LifeNews.com, which is the leading pro-life news website and the only one specifically devoted to pro-life issues, has long believed that Facebook has been suppressing its traffic.