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Twitter just proved it can and it will crack down on political ads.
Twitter removed a campaign promo from Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, where she referred to an abortion as the “sale of baby body parts” that she helped stop via her efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, the Associated Press reported.
Twitter reportedly told the Blackburn campaign the language was an “inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction.” A Twitter representative also told the Blackburn campaign that the ad would be able to run again on the social network if the statement related to abortions was removed, according to the AP.
This move by Twitter comes as the network is being scrutinized for its role in spreading fake news during the 2016 election, some of which were linked to Russian accounts. Lawmakers are now discussing ways to regulate political ads on digital platforms.
Twitter also has a reputation for spreading hate speech. Some activists and lawmakers say the network needs to do more to take down offensive content. Others, like users of competitor website Gab, accuse Twitter of censorship.
New York Times reporter John Herrman theorized that perhaps ad’s removal was all a test by Twitter as it tries to balance its free speech principle with the rampant abuse across the platform.
is this some bad-faith self-own so they can tell us they have to remain “hands-off” running their platform?
— John Herrman (@jwherrman) October 9, 2017
Rep. Blackburn reportedly shared her grievances on Twitter, but it appears that the tweets have since been removed.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rep. Blackburn is currently running for the seat of Sen. Bob Corker, who announced his retirement last month. The Republican senator from Tennessee has been involved in a Twitter scandal of his own for the past few days, but for quite different reasons. Over the weekend, Sen. Corker described the White House as an “adult day care center” shortly after President Trump’s tweeted several negative statements about him.
Rep. Blackburn’s stance on abortion rights is nothing new. She chaired a House panel to investigate Planned Parenthood. Earlier this year, that Republican-run panel asked Congress to stop federal funding to the organization.
The video on Twitter also included footage of Rep. Blackburn shooting a gun and talking about Republicans’ failed effort to repeal Obamacare, according to the AP.