Live Action says Twitter has suppressed its ads, and the Washington Post reported Friday on the battle between the two organizations. (The original headline stated, “Twitter won’t run an anti-abortion group’s paid advertising unless it scrubs its website of sensitive content.”)
A major anti-abortion group has accused Twitter of blocking its ads and even demanding removal of “sensitive content” from its own website, in what activists say is a clear departure from the social media giant’s claim of hosting unfiltered debate.
Live Action’s demand letter to Twitter requests the social media company grant access to advertise to more than its own followers on Twitter, saying Twitter is unfairly singling out Live Action and its founder and president, Lila Rose. The Post reports:
In a letter to Twitter, attorneys for Live Action, known for its undercover investigations of abortion clinics, allege the social media platform wrongly applied its policies to censor advertisements that contain ultrasound images of fetuses, promote or link to its secret recordings, and oppose federal funding of Planned Parenthood.
Of course, these ads like these that promote the value of human life and expose the abortion industry are the heartbeat of Live Action’s media messages. As the Post notes, battles like these are becoming increasingly common, raising greater debates about possible censorship and suppression in social media organizations.
Lila Rose, president of Live Action, said:
This wasn’t about one issue with one aspect with one ad. This was about the entirety of our message, from ultrasound images of life in the womb to criticism of abortion facilities. The heart of Twitter’s self-named purpose is to “give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” They are completely violating that.
Twitter denies blocking Live Action because of its pro-life message, claiming it has other pro-life relationships (though, as SBA List pointed out, that defense falls rather flat when Twitter’s other ad-blocking is considered). As Live Action News reported in July, the standard being applied to Live Action’s ads is hardly equal:
While Planned Parenthood is allowed to advertise on Twitter, the social media company has suppressed Live Action’s ads, calling our pro-life messages offensive and inflammatory. What exactly is Twitter calling so offensive and inflammatory? Tweeting a picture of a child developing in the womb and saying we believe in the right to life. Or tweeting ultrasound images, like the ones that most expectant moms hang on their refrigerator doors.
Planned Parenthood is allowed to tweet that a woman has a right to an abortion, but when Live Action tweets that a baby has a right to life, Twitter considers that “inflammatory” and “offensive.”
Twitter says that all advertiser tweets must be honest and not deceptive and cannot violate its advertising standards. Live Action’s tweets do not violate any specific Twitter policies; nevertheless, Twitter has persisted in its ban on Live Action’s advertising because of what it deems “offensive content” — even including Live Action tweets with normal fetal ultrasound photos in this category — as the Post reports:
In a May 18 email to Live Action, Twitter’s political and advocacy sales team told the organization that its ads violated Twitter’s sensitive advertising content policy, which prohibits “inflammatory or provocative content which is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction” as well as content that is shocking, disturbing, or offensive.
Twitter gave Live Action two choices to become eligible for advertising in the future: remove “sensitive content” from its website and Twitter feed, or create a Twitter handle linking to a new website without the offending content, according to the email exchanges provided by Live Action that The Washington Post has verified.
Live Action’s attorney points out that Twitter is not only banning the organization, but also attempting to dictate what material should be on Live Action’s website. Twitter now has a demand letter from Live Action in hand and must decide what action it will take.