Twitter censored, then allowed, a pro-life advertisement from Republican Marsha Blackburn’s Senate campaign, bolstering pro-life groups’ claim that the social media service favors pro-abortion views.
Blackburn launched her 2018 Senate campaign last week with an ad that mentioned Congress’ investigation into Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue procurement practices: “I fought Planned Parenthood and we stopped the sale of baby body parts. Thank God.”
In 2016, Blackburn chaired the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, which formed in response to undercover videos released by David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress.
Twitter called Blackburn’s comments “inflammatory” and blocked her from directly promoting the ad on its service unless she removed the line from her video. But a few days later Twitter reversed its decision.
“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,” Twitter spokesman Nicholas Pacilio said in a statement.
Pro-life advocates praised Twitter for backing down and permitting Blackburn to promote her message, but asserted the social media service needs to go further to enable free speech.
Lila Rose, the founder and president of Live Action, said Wednesday in light of Twitter’s reversal it should also unblock ads from her group that conveyed a similar pro-life message.
“Some of the Live Action content that Twitter objected to was identical to the content in Ms. Blackburn’s now-permitted advertising, so there’s no longer a rational basis for it to ban Live Action’s ads,” Rose said in a statement.
In June, Twitter told Live Action that in order to advertise it needed to delete tweets related to the Center for Medical Progress videos. Twitter also asked the pro-life group to remove related content from its own website.
Lawyers for Live Action have urged Twitter to undo the ban without success.
Another pro-life organization, the Susan B. Anthony List showed its support for Live Action in a tweet Wednesday: “Social media sites that claim to foster freedom of expression shouldn’t be suppressing #ProLife speech.”
The Susan B. Anthony List recently ran into a similar problem when Twitter blocked the group from promoting a tweet featuring a Mother Teresa quote: “Abortion is profoundly anti-woman. Three-quarters of its victims are women and children: Half the babies and all the mothers.”
Both pro-life groups note Twitter regularly allows Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, to promote “inflammatory” ads that offend pro-lifers.
Before Twitter lifted its ban on Blackburn’s ad, she sent messages to potential campaign donors asking for support because “Silicon Valley elites” were trying to “impose their values.” Appearing on Fox & Friends on Wednesday morning, Blackburn called Twitter’s reversal, “Our first Senate conservative victory.”