An anti-abortion nonprofit claims it is being unfairly targeted by Twitter.
The group, Live Action, has been instructed by Twitter's powers that be that it cannot advertise on the popular social media platform until it deletes allegedly "offensive" and "provocative" content.
Live Action published emails this week showing its discussions with members of Twitter's sales team. The emails, which have been viewed and verified by the Washington Examiner, begin with Twitter rejecting the group's attempt to get Live Action founder Lila Rose's tweet "promoted."
The reason for the rejection, Live Action was told, was because the submitted tweets violated the company's policy stating content can't be "threatening, violent, gruesome, abusive, shocking or disturbing … offensive, vulgar or obscene … inflammatory" or anything "which is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction."
Live Action was instructed that the following tweets were in violation of Twitter's Ad policy:
The group was told in an email on May 18 that it could become Twitter compliant if it took either of the following actions: "Remove current and past sensitive content from your website and Twitter feed" or "create a new Twitter handle for marketing/advertising efforts that drives to a new website that does not include content that violates our policy."
Live Action did not comply, and instead pressed Twitter for clarification, noting in a follow-up email that other accounts with possibly controversial content were free to advertise on the social media platform.
Planned Parenthood, they noted, had many promoted tweets, despite the fact that it, too, pushes content that could easily be described as "offensive" or "provocative."
Here's a sample of some of Planned Parenthood's Twitter timeline:
"The way Donald Trump speaks about people who are different than him disgusts me." https://t.co/vUWXVb7EuL #ToxicTrump #PinkOutTheVote pic.twitter.com/pxZyV1uOXu— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) October 19, 2016
"Defunding" Planned Parenthood is a misnomer. Here's who gets hurt when politicians attack access to care: https://t.co/v2VwIZaLZP pic.twitter.com/6PYgcYQf8d— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) January 3, 2017
The Twitter sales rep declined to explain the alleged double-standard, replying, "We can't comment on the Tweets of other organizations and whether or not they've been flagged in the past or are currently in review. There are of course a lot of factors that go into an account being flagged — and without the appropriate context it's impossible to compare apples to apples here."
Live Action on May 24 requested a face-to-face meeting to discuss what they saw as an inconsistency. Twitter declined, saying it does not "meet with clients directly."
On June 1, the anti-abortion nonprofit sent yet another email, this time providing a list of bullet points repeating back Twitter's requests, including that they remove:
- our undercover investigations
- investigations by the Center for Medical Progress
- images and videos of abortion procedures
- content related to defunding Planned Parenthood
- images and videos of late-term abortions
- ultrasound and images of preborn children
- our petition to defund Planned Parenthood
- links directing to sections of our website that contain videos with the content listed above
Twitter responded in the affirmative, with the added note that compliance with the list wouldn't necessarily guarantee approval.
"Please keep in mind that if you choose to go with the deleting content option we'll likely go through a few rounds of review with our Policy team — but eventually we'll get there! Just don't want to set the expectation that you'll automatically be eligible for advertising if you make changes outlined," the sales team said on June 5.
Live Action has not complied and maintains instead that they are being asked to submit to a double-standard. The group has published an article on its website accusing Twitter of "blatant bias against pro-life material and content exposing Planned Parenthood."
"This is a platform, of course, that is a public company," Rose said this week in an interview. "So, this is not something they're telling their shareholders or telling their users, that they're actually going to be blocking the advertisement of pro-life speech. This is something they've been keeping a secret."
Neither Planned Parenthood nor Twitter responded to the Examiner's multiple requests for comment.