When Advertising on Social Media, be Really Careful


During the weekend, a Twitter promotion of a blog post which I believed was acceptable was halted almost immediately after it began running.  I’ve been charged a small fraction of the amount I budgeted for the ad, and feel confident the charge is fair, given the number of people who saw the ad.

Twitter’s reason was “inappropriate language,” which was not in the text I typed.  However, the blog post included a link to a one minute-long YouTube video by Maria Navarro which contained some common street profanity and a vulgar hand gesture.  Apparently, that was what did it.

Before the ad was removed, the tweet received two clicks among users who saw the promotion.  However, I don’t suspect either of those people complained about the content.  It all happened too fast for that.

There’s something unusual in the blog tracking info for that date.  Something about a Twitter “portal.”  I believe the content of my post, including the link to the video, was screened electronically by Twitter’s equipment, and the “inappropriate” material was discovered.

In retrospect, I know I shouldn’t have taken a chance with another site’s decency policy when promoting that post (and if I’d been as prudent as usual, the language and hand gesture in the video would have raised questions in my own head about whether a social media site wanted to circulate it).  However, the typed blog post made it clear that the video documented a hostile encounter, so most people could have guessed the language would be lively — and even then it wasn’t nearly as bleepworthy as you might think.  I also found it important to remind others that extreme anti-immigrant hatred among seemingly average people — even in progressive L.A. — exists.  Ms. Navarro’s video showed a white woman in Los Angeles who was furious and threatening to call ICE after she saw another woman on the sidewalk.

I don’t know whether my Twitter infraction will result in more difficulty putting ads online in the future.  Twitter results have been weaker than Facebook results, though, so if Twitter locks me out of their advertising options I can always focus more closely on Facebook.  I’ll just be careful not to post anything — even a link to a minute-long video — that has a bad word in it.  Some “controversial art” is also off-limits on Facebook.

I won’t ponder whether Twitter was right or wrong in halting the ad.  They make their own policy, and if I do business with them I must comply with the policy.  The purpose of this blog post is to inform others that special care must be used when advertising on social media.  Read the terms and conditions carefully, and if you include links to other people’s work be aware that rules also apply to those links.

Here are screenshots of the promoted Twitter post and e-mail notification, to let me know the ad didn’t meet their standards.  Please scroll down to find a link to the entire blog post in question:

Screenshot (184)Screenshot (185)


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