Pro-life organization Live Action is fighting back after Twitter banned the group from advertising, accusing Live Action of using Twitter's platform to promote "sensitive content."
A letter from Live Action's attorneys accuses Twitter of blocking Live Action's core pro-life content by claiming that the anti-abortion message is unscientific and "misleading." Live Action alleges, according to The Washington Post, that "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."
Those "secret recordings" are from Live Action's investigation into Planned Parenthood's own operation — the same recordings that exposed Planned Parenthood officials morbidly laughing and joking about trafficking in aborted baby parts while they ate salad and drank red wine. And those ultrasounds, of course, are of unborn infants — the kind Live Action is dedicated to saving from abortion.
But earlier in September, Twitter declared all of Live Action's content unfit for advertising, and demanded that Live Action either remove all "objectionable" content from their website and Twitter feed, or forget about ever advertising on their network.
Live Action founder Lila Rose told the Post that Twitter's demands essentially required the pro-life group to abandon its core mission. “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,” Rose said.
“The heart of Twitter’s self-named purpose is to ‘give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers,’" she added. “They are completely violating that.”
A Twitter spokesperson told the Post that the company has "clear" guidelines for its advertiers — and that those guidelines prohibit “inflammatory or provocative content which is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction” and shocking, disturbing or offensive images. The same spokesperson also claimed that Twitter works seamlessly with other pro-life groups, like the Susan B. Anthony List.
Susan B. Anthony List tells a different story, claiming that after a struggle, they've reached an "uneasy peace" with the social media platform. Twitter, SBA says, was triggered by a "shocking, disturbing or offensive image" of Mother Teresa, with the quote, "Abortion is profoundly anti-women.”
The rub here, of course, is that Twitter is not a public utility; as a private company that sells advertising, they are free to refuse any business, including pro-life business. They are also free to set up parameters and enforce them as they see fit. As such, Twitter can refuse Live Action's ads, or even send up ridiculous hurdles, and they're likely to do both.
But there are two issues at play, as well: one, that Twitter operates as a conversation mechanism for millions of people, and at some point it stops being merely a fun social media tool, and becomes a means of public communication, not dissimilar from a television network. Live Action asserts that time has passed (but television networks have also been known to refuse pro-life content, even paid Super Bowl commercials).
The other is that while Twitter might be well within its right to refuse Live Action's business, the same progressive voices that defend Twitter's exclusionary policies wouldn't be so quick to speak out if, say, the tables were turned, and Twitter were refusing a progressive organization's paid content.