Twitter, this past Monday, refused to sell Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, who is running for Senate there, ad space for her campaign announcement video. It cited her video as being in violation of its policy when it comes to inflammatory content. It specifically cited the part where she claims that she “stopped the sale of baby body parts” by Planned Parenthood. Now, for the record, there has never been any proof that Planned Parenthood sells baby parts. A Texas judge, state investigations, and congressional committees that included Blackburn, have never found the slightest proof of these allegations against Planned Parenthood. All that being said, the question is raised: Was Twitter right to deny selling to Blackburn ad space for her campaign video?
Those who support Twitter are quick to point out that, not only is Blackburn’s ad inflammatory, but it is also blatantly false. They feel that she is attacking Planned Parenthood to try and gain support for her campaign with lies, such as the selling of baby body parts, that have been disproved over and over again. They also point out that Twitter is a publicly traded company and it has to maintain certain standards because it answers to its stockholders, not its users.
People who are against Twitter’s decision see this whole ordeal as a First Amendment violation. They feel that Twitter is deliberately targeting Marsha Blackburn for her pro-life, conservative views. Many feel that Twitter is pushing a left-wing, liberal agenda. They don’t think of it as refusing to sell ad space to a person. They see it as Twitter banning the ad and they are angry.
Twitter is in a no-win scenario. People see Twitter as a place where anyone can express their views, no matter what they are. There are times, though, when people cross the line and Twitter must step in. If a user says something that incites violence against a particular group of people, and Twitter does nothing, it is allowing the propagation of hate. If, on the other hand, it shuts down the account, it is seen as blocking free speech. In the case of Marsha Blackburn, it did not block the ad, it simply didn’t monetize it. You can see the ad in its entirety on Twitter from people who tweeted and retweeted it.
This is the ad in question:
Was Twitter right in declining to sell ad space to Marsha Blackburn due to the sensitive nature of her ad, or was Twitter simply blocking her from exercising her First Amendment rights? Of course, to answer that question, it must be considered whether her ad was indeed inflammatory and untrue.
In support of Twitter denying Marsha Blackburn ad space
The following comments highlight concerns regarding the legitimacy of Blackburn’s claims.
— NARAL (@NARAL) October 10, 2017
Planned Parenthood has been investigated numerous times and every investigation proves they did nothing wrong. Stop with the LIES Blackburn
— Molly Brown (@MollyBrown28) October 10, 2017
Not ONE law enforcement agency has found proof of baby parts. Not the police. Not the FBI. Not even investigative journalists.
— Julie (@alpinegoodtime) October 10, 2017
In opposition to Twitter denying Marsha Blackburn ad space
The following comments focus on the fact that by refusing to sell Blackburn ad space, Twitter was effectively censoring her. Also present is the argument that what she claims is true after all.
— Caleb Slater (@Slatetothepoint) October 10, 2017
— Theguywhoknowsaguy (@bAssbeaz) October 10, 2017
— SweetpeaCatfish (@SweetpeaCatfish) October 10, 2017
@Twitter Are you playing politics again? Of course you are…there was nothing wrong with Rep Marsha Blackburn's ad! Does the truth hurt??
— Lori S (@LoriS09598635) October 10, 2017
What do you think about Twitter’s response to Marsha Blackburn? Were they right in denying her ad space?