Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg criticized rival social media platform Twitter for its decision to block Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s Senate announcement video because it contained what it called an “inflammatory” statement regarding Planned Parenthood.
“A lot of what we allow on Facebook is people expressing themselves. The thing about free expression is that when you allow free expression, you allow free expression,” Sandberg said in an interview with Axios. “And that means you allow other people to say things that you don’t like and go against your core beliefs. And it’s not just content, it’s ads, because when you’re thinking about political speech, ads are really important.”
Axios co-founder Mike Allen asked Sandberg whether Twitter made a mistake in blocking Blackburn’s ad.
“So, Twitter took down the ad and put it back up,” Sandberg said. “In that ad, there’s a lot of positions that people don’t like, that I don’t like. I am a staunch supporter of reproductive rights, a staunch supporter of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is not selling baby body parts. But the question is should divisive issue or politcal ads brun.”
Our answer is yes because when you cut off speech for one person you cut off speech for all people.
“We all know her ability to get that message out does depend on having access to ads, which is why we allow issue-based ads even when they’re hard” Sandberg said. “I think the responsibility of an open platform is to let people express themselves. We don’t check the information people put on Facebook before they run it, and I don’t think any one should want us to do that.”
In the video, Blackburn said she had stopped the sale of baby body parts by Planned Parenthood and that was enough for Twitter to block the ad, but after Blackburn tweeted the video saying that Twitter had blocked it for its pro-life message, the company reversed its decision.
While Twitter tried to prevent Blackburn from getting her message out through its paid promotion service, the controversy surrounding the video helped her in the end with over 23,000 retweets and 626,000 views on Facebook which allowed the video to be posted with the original Planned Parenthood statement.