A pro-life organization has caught Twitter in the act (again) of censoring yet another conservative policy advocate, while allowing the controversial Planned Parenthood to conduct its messaging on the social media platform unfettered.
The accusation – with proof – came from Lila Rose, president of Live Action, who said on several occasions she has tried to expand messaging to Twitter users via paid advertisements and has been denied. At the same time, she says, Planned Parenthood has boosted its Tweets freely.
“I think it’s clear that Twitter is discriminating against the pro-life voice,” Rose told the Washington Times. “Planned Parenthood is allowed to promote their pro-abortion and misleading messages, while Live Action is barred from promoting any content exposing abortion and Planned Parenthood.”
Live Action is an extremely effective organization that has exposed the excesses and extremity of Planned Parenthood’s pro-abortion advocacy and its ghoulish practices, often by giving voice to former workers at its clinics. Messaging through social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter are essential to its mission.
Rose has provided copies of several emails she exchanged with Twitter about the nature of her messages and the reasons for restricting Live Action’s ability to advertise. She has also posted side-by-side comparisons of Tweets by Planned Parenthood that have been permitted, with ones by Live Action that have been disallowed for advertising.
Reasons given by Twitter’s moderators are that Live Action’s posts violate the advertising policies that forbid “hate, sensitive topics, and violence.” Another communication from Twitter confirmed that Live Action could not advertise because of “threatening, violent, gruesome, abusive, shocking or disturbing content,” “offensive, vulgar or obscene content,” and “inflammatory or provocative content which is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction.”
Among the allegedly offensive Tweets Rose hoped to advertise to a larger audience were posts with a picture of a pre-born baby with the message “human with potential,” and another video Tweet that advocated for the government to stop funding Planned Parenthood.
“Let’s set the record straight,” the Tweet said. “[Planned Parenthood] is about abortion, not women’s health care. We can fund more worthy clinics instead.”
In order to have advertising privileges reinstated, Twitter informed Rose that Live Action could either “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.” Doing so would have pretty much eliminated the entirety of the organization’s history of work, including undercover investigations, content regarding the defunding of Planned Parenthood – including petitions, and all images and videos of abortion procedures, pre-born children, and late-term abortions.
“Planned Parenthood readily Tweets about why it thinks women need Planned Parenthood,” Rose wrote, “but when Live Action Tweets that women don’t need Planned Parenthood, Twitter considers that ‘inflammatory.’
“Twitter has effectively limited speech on the side of the issue it apparently rejects,” she added. “This is disturbing behavior for a social media platform that has over 300 million active users a month and that presents itself as a forum for people to voice a variety of opinions and positions.”
Abortion isn’t the only issue on which Twitter and its executives have sided with the radical Left and against conservatives. As NLPC has reported in the past, Twitter has supported the militant anti-police movement Black Lives Matter, with executive chairman Omid Kordestani and CEO Jack Dorsey each donating $6,000 to the Baltimore mayoral campaign of BLM leader DeRay Mckesson. Indeed the movement has gotten a lot of mileage out of the Twitter hashtags #BlackLivesMatter, #HandsUpDontShoot and #ICantBreathe.
Twitter executives also threw support behind corporate initiatives, organized with many Silicon Valley CEOs, to oppose state-level laws and legislation that required individuals to use public restrooms according to their biological sex, not the gender they “identify” with.
And in an interview with Matt Lauer on “The Today Show” in March 2016, Dorsey was asked about Twitter’s censorship practices, which he denied. He told Lauer, “It’s our job to make sure they (readers) see the most important things and the things that’ll matter to them,” which many conservatives have found suspect.
Dorsey also weighed in earlier this year against President Trump’s temporary ban on refugees from certain nations in which terror sponsorship is a concern. He said the “humanitarian and economic impact of the ban is real and upsetting. Twitter is built by immigrants of all religions. We stand for and with them, always. We benefit from what refugees and immigrants bring to the US.”
Also popular blogger Scott Adams, creator of the “Dilbert” comic strip and a Trump supporter, reported in October that many of his more than 110,000 followers told him that Twitter was “shadowbanning” him, which meant that his Tweets did not show up in their newsfeeds.
As for Live Action, a Twitter spokesperson told the Washington Times in an email that political ideology has nothing to do with its policies for users and advertisers.
“Twitter has clear, transparent rules that every advertiser is required to follow,” the spokesperson said in an email, “and the political viewpoints of an organization do not impact how these rules are applied.”
That’s pretty hard to believe, considering the advocacy of Twitter and its executives and its treatment of its political opposition.
Paul Chesser is an associate fellow with the National Legal and Policy Center.