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Pro-Lifers’ Social Media Bans Are Too Numerous To Not Be Censorship

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Live Action was suspended from the short-form video app TikTok on Jan. 30, 2020, after posting a video with the captions: “Be pro-abortion” or “Be pro-life and help save babies.” Following a popular TikTok trend, the video shows a young woman eating a jelly bean next to the pro-life caption.

This is the video that TikTok says violated their “Community Guidelines” and banned us for.

In it, we share the beautiful personal stories that some of our followers have shared with us about choosing life for their babies. pic.twitter.com/EBADFmxUEW

— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) January 31, 2020

According to TikTok, this video, which also included pictures of smiling infants, violated “multiple Community Guidelines.” Within 24 hours, TikTok apologized and reinstated the account, citing “human error.” TikTok never told Live Action which guidelines it suspected us of violating.

The initial decision to remove our video of smiling babies was even more confusing, since TikTok appears to be fine with videos that simulate harm to children, including one video of a young man violently beating a realistic-looking baby doll against a desk, laughing and calling it a “DIY” abortion as the doll flails. That video, which currently has almost 1.2 million views, 120,000 likes, and more than 2,000 comments, uses the hashtag “#plannedparenthood.” Another shocking TikTok video shows a young man “explaining to the boys how to conduct a coat hanger abortion in the garage,” waving a coat hanger and joking that it “just works.”

TikTok’s community guidelines prohibit “violent and graphic” content, including videos that are “gratuitously shocking, sadistic, or excessively graphic,” or which depict “severe physical violence,” yet neither of these videos has been removed.

Live Action’s Ongoing Censorship from Big Tech

The popularity of the Beijing-based social media platform has exploded among the next generation in the United States, with 41 percent of its more than 800 million users between the ages of 16 and 24. Live Action is a nonprofit pro-life organization that advocates for the human rights and dignity of preborn children, and seeks to expose the fraudulent and dangerous practices of the abortion industry.

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One of the key audiences for Live Action’s life-saving message is young, pregnant women who are considering abortion. At the time of its removal, and now with its account reinstated, Live Action has become the largest pro-life voice on TikTok with more than 21,000 followers.

This is not Live Action’s first encounter with Big Tech censorship on social media. In 2015, Twitter banned Live Action and my personal account from running paid advertisements, pointing to our use of ultrasound images, criticism of abortion facilities, and fight to end their taxpayer funding. Twitter told us we needed to remove all our “secret recordings” and “sensitive content,” which included ultrasound images of preborn children and quotes such as, “A person’s a person no matter how small,” from both our Twitter feeds and scrub them from our website if we wanted to continue advertising.

Incredibly, although the “secret recordings” we shared exposed Planned Parenthood officials engaging in trafficking body parts of aborted babies, the company and its lobbying arm continue to run paid ads on Twitter.

In 2018, YouTube demonetized Live Action and banned our paid ads. In June 2019, Pinterest banned and removed Live Action after a whistleblower employee exposed the platform’s decision to place Live Action on its blocked “pornography” list. Also in 2019, Facebook’s partner “fact-checkers” deemed Live Action content “false” for saying abortion is not medically necessary, a position shared by thousands of board-certified OB-GYNs.

Social Media Is the New Town Square

Whether we like it or not, social media has become America’s town square. We go there for news, information, and public debate. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter represent themselves as open forums. The Supreme Court has even called social media the “modern public square,” and lower federal courts are now telling public officials that blocking their social media critics is “viewpoint discrimination” that violates the First Amendment. Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo personally called the platform the “global town square.”

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But these companies openly engage in viewpoint discrimination, which, if done by government entities in the traditional “town squares” of America, would be brazenly unconstitutional. Big Tech routinely steps into the abortion debate, censors the pro-life side, favors the pro-abortion side, and then laughably claims to be enforcing neutral policies.

Just last year, Twitter restricted an image of the late Nobel Prize-winner Mother Theresa, posted by the president of Susan B. Anthony List. The image included a quote that supposedly violated Twitter’s “health and pharmaceutical products and services policy.” The quote read, “Abortion is profoundly anti-woman. Three quarters of its victims are women: Half the babies and all the mothers.”

Absurd as it is to claim decisions like this are neutral, Silicon Valley’s escape hatch is that these companies are private corporations, not government entities. Therefore, the First Amendment does not apply to their enforcement of their rules.

What Should We Do About Censorship?

But with these companies acting as gatekeepers to news and information, operating under clear biases against organizations such as Live Action, is our digital town square truly a forum for free speech and open debate?

Some argue that social media companies censoring conservative and pro-life organizations should be held to the same standards as other news publications exercising editorial decisions. If I can sue the New York Times for defamation, perhaps the same liability should apply to Facebook for every post it decides not to censor.

Others have wondered if social media companies should be treated like public utilities and therefore essential public services the federal government can regulate and break up. Perhaps the Federal Communications Commission needs to check their unfair, deceptive, and anticompetitive practices, just like it does with broadcast media companies and electricity providers.

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It is also worth mentioning the Supreme Court upheld California’s ability to expand free speech protections to citizens who picket and demonstrate in privately owned shopping centers, deemed “public forums” in California. Where is Silicon Valley located again?

What about TikTok? The app is owned by a Beijing-based company subject to Chinese government censorship policies, not U.S. constitutional free speech rights. The company, ByteDance, has been caught repeatedly censoring political content globally.

As if the titans of Silicon Valley were not bad enough, should we now be concerned that some corners of our global town square will be subject to the censorship policies of an authoritarian regime? If so, don’t expect pro-lifers to be welcomed in those corners, monitored by the same government that enforced a brutal one-child policy and untold millions of forced abortions, primarily targeting female babies. No wonder TikTok has not flagged or removed “DIY” abortion videos.

Is that the brave, new global town square we want? Or maybe, since TikTok has servers and headquarters located in the United States, it should be no easier for the platform to get away with censorship than it should be for Silicon Valley.

Whatever we decide as a representative republic, these looming questions are ripe for debate now that social media has become our undisputed public square. As Americans, we must demand that Big Tech respect our rights to free speech and open debate.

Lila Rose is the founder and president of the national pro-life organization Live Action. Follow her on Twitter: @LilaGraceRose.

Copyright © 2020 The Federalist, a wholly independent division of FDRLST Media, All Rights Reserved.

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Twitter’s Latest Promotional Campaign Focuses on Celebrities Who’ve Manifested Success Via Tweet

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Twitter's Latest Promotional Campaign Focuses on Celebrities Who've Manifested Success Via Tweet


Twitter has launched a new advertising campaign which is focused on ‘manifesting’ via tweet, highlighting how a range of successful athletes and entertainers made initial commitments to their success via Twitter long before their public achievements.

Through a new set of billboard ads across the US, Twitter will showcase 12 celebrities that ‘tweeted their dreams into existence’.

As explained by Twitter:

To honor these athletes and other celebrities for Tweeting their dreams into existence, Twitter turned their famous Tweets into 39+ billboards! Located across 8 cities (NYC, LA, SF, Chicago, Toronto, Houston, Tampa, Talladega), most of the billboards can be found in the hometowns or teams’ locations of the stars who manifested their dreams, such as Bubba Wallace in Talladega and Diamond DeShields in Chicago.”

Twitter Manifest campaign

Beyond the platform promotion alone, the billboards actually align with usage trends at this time of year, as people work to stick with their New Year’s resolutions, and adopt new habits that will improve their lives. Seeing big-name stars that have been able to achieve their own dreams, which they’ve publicly communicated via tweet, could be another avenue to holding firm on such commitments, while Twitter also notes that tweets about manifestation are at an all-time high, seeing 100% year-over-year growth.

Maybe that’s the key. By sharing your ambitions and goals publicly, maybe that additional accountability will better ensure that you stick to your commitments – or maybe it’s all just mental, and by adding that extra public push to yourself, you’ll feel more compelled to keep going, because it’s there for all to see.

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In addition to the promotional value of the campaign, Twitter’s also donating nearly $1 million to charities as selected by each of the featured celebrities.

“Some of the charities include Boys and Girls Club, Destination Crenshaw, The 3-D Foundation, and UNICEF Canada.”

It’s an interesting push, which again comes at the right time of year. Getting into a new routine is tough, as is changing careers, publishing your first artwork, speaking in public, etc. Maybe, by seeing how these stars began as regular people, tweeting their dreams like you or I, that could act as a good motivator that you too can achieve what you set out to do, and that by posting such publicly, you’re making a commitment, not to the random public, but to yourself, that you will do it this year.

Sure, 2022 hasn’t exactly got off to a great start, with a COVID resurgence threatening to derail things once again. But maybe, this extra push could be the thing that keeps you focused, like these celebrities, even amid external distractions.  





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Snapchat Adds New Limits on Adults Seeking to Connect with Minors in the App

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Snapchat Adds New Limits on Adults Seeking to Connect with Minors in the App


After Instagram added similar measures last year, Snapchat is now implementing new restrictions to limit adults from sending messages to users under the age of 18 in the app.

As reported by Axios, Snapchat is changing its “Quick Add” friend suggestion process so that it’s not possible for people to add users aged under 18 “unless there are a certain number of friends in common between the two users”. That won’t stop such connection completely, but it does add another barrier in the process, which could reduce harm.

The move is a logical and welcome step, which will help improve the security of youngsters in the app, but the impacts of such could be far more significant on Snap, which is predominantly used by younger people.

Indeed, Snapchat reported last year that around 20% of its total user base was aged under 18, with the majority of its audience being in the 13-24 year-old age bracket. That means that interaction between these age groups is likely a significant element of the Snap experience, and restricting such could have big impacts on overall usage, even if it does offer greater protection for minors.

Which is why this is a particularly significant commitment from Snap – though it is worth noting that Snapchat won’t necessarily stop older users from connecting with younger ones in the app, it just won’t make it as easy through initial recommendations, via the Quick Add feature.

So it’s not a huge change, as such. But again, given the interplay between these age groups in the app, it is a marker of Snap’s commitment to protection, and to finding new ways to ensure that youngsters are not exposed to potential harm within the app.

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Snapchat has faced several issues on this front, with the ephemeral focus of the app providing fertile ground for predators, as it automatically erases any evidence trail in the app. With that in mind, Snap does have a way to go in providing more protection, but it is good to see the company looking at ways to limit such interactions, and combat potentially harmful misuse.



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TikTok Adds Insights on the Latest Trending Songs by Region to its Trend Discovery Listings

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TikTok Adds Insights on the Latest Trending Songs by Region to its Trend Discovery Listings


TikTok has added a new element to the Trends section of its Creative Center, which now provides a listing of the most popular songs in the app, at any given time, which is filterable by region.

As you can see in this example, over at trends.tiktok.com, you can now check out the most popular songs and hashtags being used in the app, with a range of different time period filters for each (up to the previous 120 days for hashtags and the last 30 days for songs.). You can also check out the most popular TikTok clips in your region, filterable by ‘Hot’, ‘Likes’, ‘Comments’ and ‘Shares’ (over the previous 7 days or 30 days).

TikTok trends

TikTok first launched its Creative Center last March, with its ‘Top Ads’ display being the core element. As you can see in these screenshots, Top Ads is now also included in the broader trend insights offering (on a separate tab), along with ‘Showcases’, providing some great insights into what’s working, and how other businesses are using TikTok’s promotional tools to reach its ever-growing audience.

Music is a driving force in the broader TikTok experience. Last month, TikTok reported that over 430 songs surpassed a billion video views in the app in 2021 – a threefold increase over 2020 – while over 175 songs that had trended on TikTok throughout the year also charted on the Billboard Hot 100.

Music can also play a part in brand promotions, with 73% of respondents to a recent Kantar survey indicating that they would be more likely to stop and look at ads on TikTok that utilized audio elements, with popular music being a key attention-grabber in the app.

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Of course, not every brand can afford to license the latest popular songs for their promotions. But it is worth noting the songs that are trending, as not all of them are commercially licensed, while they also point to broader usage trends and habits in the app.

TikTok says that it’s working hard to improve its trend insights, and provide more data on real-time changes and habits, which could make this a valuable resource to bookmark for your strategic efforts.

Or it could just be a handy reference point to understand what’s happening in the app.

Definitely, there’s big research potential here – you can check out the updated TikTok Trends display at trends.tiktok.com.





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