Exclusive–Facebook Apologizes, Restores Previously Censored Ad Promoting Marsha Blackburn

Susan B. Anthony List Ad
Marsha Blackburn U.S. Senate

Facebook told Breitbart News in an exclusive statement on Thursday that they have restored a Susan B. Anthony List ad promoting Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and apologized, contending that the ad did not violate their advertising policy, which raises questions over social media companies’ influence in American electoral politics.

On Thursday, Facebook decided not to approve one of Susan B. Anthony List’s ads within one week of the contentious 2018 midterm elections, which raises the question of social media companies’ undue influence in American electoral politics. The Susan B. Anthony List ad chastises Tennessee Senate Democrat candidate Phil Bredesen for his pro-choice views, while also promoting Tennessee Republican Blackburn as a “pro-life champion.”

Here is the ad:

Facebook responded to Breitbart News’s request for comment on Thursday, explaining that the ad should have never been disapproved and that they have restored the Susan B. Anthony List ad.

“This ad does not violate Facebook’s policies and should never have been disapproved,” a Facebook spokesperson told Breitbart News.We’re sorry for this mistake – the ad has been restored and is now running on Facebook.”

Facebook has yet to respond to followup requests for comment over why the ad was disapproved in the first place and what safeguards they can put in place to ensure that conservative and alternative political and issue ads do not get censored.

Facebook’s original disapproval of the Susan B. Anthony List ad strikes a contrast to Facebook Chief Operating Officer (COO) Sheryl Sandberg’s statement that she would not ban ads that have pro-life views, despite her own pro-choice beliefs and support for Planned Parenthood.

Sandberg asked rhetorically, “The question is, ‘Should divisive political or issue ads run?’”

The Facebook executive answered, “Our answer is yes–because when you cut off speech for one person, you cut off speech for all people”:

The drama over the Susan B. Anthony ad comes on the heels of Google’s refusing to air a Tennessee Republican Party ad supporting Blackburn for Senate on Wednesday. In October 2017, Twitter blocked a pro-life Blackburn for Senate ad, claiming the ad was “inflammatory.”

Silicon Valley’s disapproval and refusal to air ads they consider “inflammatory” raises the question over the significant influence Google, Facebook, and Twitter play in America’s elections, especially considering this scandal arose within one week of the contentious 2018 midterm elections.

Despite the censorship looming over Blackburn’s campaign, she has continued to lead in the polls. An Emerson College poll released on Thursday has Blackburn leading Democrat Bredesen by eight points—52 to 44 percent. Blackburn’s lead remains well beyond the survey’s three percent margin of error.

Blackburn has served aa a  staunch critic of social media giants’ censorship practices. Blackburn, as the chairman of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, has held hearings and called for regulation to prevent online censorship of conservative and alternative voices.

Blackburn told Breitbart News in an interview in June that social media companies need regulation to prevent their censorship practices.

“We are focused on making certain that we look at these violations and make certain that we schedule the proper oversight and proper hearings; we want to be certain that they don’t censor conservatives,” Blackburn said.


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