Here’s something you don’t see everyday: a Silicon Valley platform, whose revenue is based on advertising, has shunned a political advertisement because it’s “inflammatory.” The company is Twitter, and the buyer was Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican of Tennessee.
The micro-blogging service on Monday took down a Blackburn campaign video ad that said, “I fought Planned Parenthood and we stopped the sale of baby body parts, thank God.” In the advertisement, Blackburn also announced her 2018 Senate bid to replace retiring Republican Bob Corker.
Blackburn tweeted that “@Twitter shut down our video ad, claiming it’s ‘inflammatory & ‘negative.'” The video is blanketing Twitter and social media now, but Twitter has solely blocked the ability to pay to promote the advertising campaign. Twitter hasn’t removed Blackburn’s tweet or other tweets from people who link to the video.
Twitter’s move comes as Silicon Valley has taken heat about its platform being used by Russia to influence the presidential election. Twitter and Facebook have said they will testify November 1 before the Senate Intelligence Committee about the issue.
What’s more, the Blackburn development follows an awakening of sorts from Silicon Valley, in which it has decided that it won’t do business with parties it doesn’t like. As an example, white-supremacist site the Daily Stormer has ping-ponged from one company to the next in search of a permanent home. Even Internet giant Google decided to shun the site.
Blackburn’s “baby parts” comment is a reference to videos that allegedly show abortion providers talking about selling fetal tissue from aborted fetuses for scientific research purposes. Despite state and federal investigations—one led by Blackburn—no proof of this practice was discovered. The anti-abortion activist who publicized the videos has been charged with privacy violations for taking the footage.
Still, anti-abortion activists have commandeered the phrase “baby body parts” as a key message for their movement.
Twitter has not publicly said why it removed the ad campaign. But in an e-mail to Blackburn obtained by BuzzFeed News, Twitter says, “The line in this video specific to ‘stopped the sale of baby body parts’ has been deemed an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction,” according to the e-mail. “If this is omitted from the video, it will be permitted to serve.”
Listing image by Marsha Blackburn For Senate