Home Living Today Culture Twitter suspends, reinstates pro-life campaign ad by David Roach

Twitter suspends, reinstates pro-life campaign ad by David Roach

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NASHVILLE (BP) — Twitter’s day-long suspension of a campaign ad by U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn over its pro-life content has left social media users discussing the microblogging site’s free speech policies.

Among evangelicals, some claimed calculated censorship of Blackburn’s anti-abortion views while others wondered whether the move was merely an unintended consequence of ill-defined Twitter policies.

“The million-dollar question” is whether Twitter’s initial removal of the video was “an honest mistake,” said Daniel Ausbun, a Kentucky pastor whose YouTube account was temporarily deleted in 2014, apparently over a sermon he preached at a previous church about Christian persecution in the Middle East. The account was reinstated after Fox News published his story.

Ausbun, now pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky., told Baptist Press, “I do think there is religious censorship” by online platforms “if you say the wrong things, like with [Blackburn]. She got the boot for her pro-life position.”

Blackburn, in announcing her candidacy for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Bob Corker, released a two-and-a-half-minute video in which she stated, “I am 100 percent pro-life. I fought Planned Parenthood, and we stopped the sale of baby parts. Thank God.”

Her comments presumably referenced her leadership of a U.S. House of Representatives panel that investigated the Planned Parenthood Federation of America for allegedly selling body parts from aborted babies. Planned Parenthood denies any wrongdoing but announced in 2015 it would no longer accept reimbursement for providing fetal tissue to medical researchers.

On Oct. 9, Twitter suspended advertisements purchased by Blackburn’s Senate campaign that included the video. Twitter told campaign officials the line about baby parts “had been deemed an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction,” according to media reports.

Though the ad was taken down, Twitter users remained free to share the video via their accounts.

Numerous media outlets reported Twitter’s decision, and Blackburn, a Republican, claimed in a fundraising email that “Silicon Valley is trying to censor us … the liberal elite are relentless in their attempts to silence our movement.”

Twitter reversed its decision Oct. 10 and reinstated the ad.

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