- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Pro-life groups are free to advertise on Twitter — as long as they don’t talk about what abortion is, show pictures of ultrasounds or criticize Planned Parenthood.

That’s what Lila Rose, president of Live Action, said Twitter’s ad policy against “hate content” amounts to. She said the social media company has sought for years to prevent Live Action from promoting pro-life content through paid advertising, even as Planned Parenthood is given free rein to reach massive audiences.

“I think it’s clear that Twitter is discriminating against the pro-life voice,” Ms. Rose said. “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.”

She said Twitter shut down Live Action’s ability to advertise on the platform after repeated violations.

The Washington Times obtained emails showing examples of tweets that were deemed unacceptable by Twitter ad bots and members of the Twitter sales team.

One tweet, sent from Ms. Rose’s personal account Jan. 18, said Planned Parenthood is “about abortion, not women’s health care.” It included a short, all-text video questioning the extent of Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion health care services.

An ad bot flagged that tweet for violating Twitter’s “hate, sensitive topics and violence” advertisement policy, according to an email notification.

The policy prohibits, among other things, “inflammatory content which is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction or cause harm.”

A spokesperson for Twitter said the company does not take ideology into account when enforcing its advertisement policy.

“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.”

When asked how the Jan. 18 tweet violated Twitter’s policy, the spokesperson did not respond.

Other tweets that ran afoul of Twitter’s ad policy include a video fact-checking Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards, a map of the United States showing the availability of women’s health care centers not affiliated with Planned Parenthood, Ms. Rose saying a child has a right to life, and Ms. Rose quoting Thomas Jefferson, Live Action said.

Additional emails showed members of the Twitter sales team flagging tweets about the undercover video investigation into Planned Parenthood conducted by the Center for Medical Progress.

In order to restore Live Action’s eligibility to advertise, a member of Twitter’s sales team said, the pro-life group must “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.”

Ms. Rose called those choices “outright Orwellian.”

“Live Action can run ads — but first you have to delete all tweets that, effectively, criticize Planned Parenthood, show images of preborn children or ultrasound images, that talk about the abortion procedure or link to investigative footage,” she said. “And you have to create a new Live Action website that doesn’t include any of that content, either, in order to reactive your ability to run ads on your account.”

Ms. Rose’s personal Twitter account, @LilaGraceRose, has more than 105,000 followers. The main Live Action account, @LiveAction, has nearly 50,000 followers.

Social media is an integral part of Live Action’s strategy, Ms. Rose said.

The pro-life group creates videos and graphics specifically tailored to appeal to users on various platforms.

One of Live Action’s video campaigns features Dr. Anthony Levatino, a former abortionist who has since become a pro-life activist, describing various abortion procedures accompanied by animations. Those videos have racked up tens of millions of views and have been translated into multiple languages.

“Live Action has the biggest social media platform right now for the pro-life movement,” Ms. Rose said. “We do investigative journalism of the abortion industry, we do educational videos, and social media is an essential part of our educational push.”

She said Live Action has “run into some challenges” with other social media platforms but has been able to resolve those problems amicably.

But not with Twitter.

Looking to take its business elsewhere, Live Action started a campaign to raise money to inundate other social media platforms with the pro-life message.

“We’re going to keep tweeting, and we’re actually doing a campaign right now to get people to fund Live Action and to get out the information that Twitter is trying to block using other platforms,” Ms. Rose said Monday on the Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” “Using Facebook, using YouTube, using the blogosphere.”

The Twitter spokesperson who denied the accusation of bias pointed to the company’s advertising partnership with another pro-life group, the Susan B. Anthony List.

But that relationship isn’t exactly rosy either.

On International Women’s Day this year, Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser sent a tweet with a picture of Mother Teresa accompanied by the caption “Abortion is profoundly anti-women.”

The tweet apparently violated Twitter’s policy prohibiting “the promotion of health and pharmaceutical products and services.”

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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