Twitter Reverses Censorship of Lawmaker’s Pro-Life Video, Says It May ‘Refine’ Its Policies
Twitter may “refine” some of its policies a couple days after blocking a campaign announcement from Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, the social media company indicated Wednesday.
Blackburn, who is running for Senate, claims in the campaign video to have “stopped the sale of baby body parts,” as she chaired a House panel investigating the purchases of fetal tissue by abortion provider Planned Parenthood. A representative for Twitter later told Blackburn’s vendors that the ad was removed Monday because the lawmaker’s description of fetal tissue is considered “an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction.”
This is the second time in roughly three weeks Twitter has said it will likely update or alter policies, initially after users complained that a President Donald Trump tweet amounted to a “declaration of war” against North Korea and thus constitutes as threats of violence.
Twitter reversed its most recent decision, alluding to the initial decision as a “difficult” one.
“Our ads policies strive to balance protecting our users from potentially distressing content with allowing our advertisers to communicate their messages,” a spokeswoman for Twitter told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “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.”
There are no specifics yet how Twitter will adjust the platform or policies that address potential censorship.
“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 spokeswoman continued.
Blackburn saw the ban — which was likely only temporary due to public backlash — as an opportunity to capitalize on a growing distrust of Silicon Valley.
— Marsha Blackburn (@VoteMarsha) October 9, 2017
— Marsha Blackburn (@VoteMarsha) October 10, 2017
Many have criticized Twitter (and much of Silicon Valley) a number of times in recent months and years for alleged acts of censorship, usually over accounts and content associated with conservatism, or extreme viewpoints related to the alt-right or white nationalism. The social media company may be walking a fine line as calls for the squashing of hate speech on the platform coincide with complaints of a lack of free expression. The line may become more blurry or thin as a schism among the U.S. electorate leads to even more urgent appeals for companies to do something about both “offensive” language and suppression of speech.
Watch the original campaign video:
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