Twitter's crackdown on hate speech isn't turning out to be easy. CEO Jack Dorsey apologized Thursday after the microblogging site hosted an ad that promoted a white supremacy group earlier this week.
The promoted tweet, spotted by Twitter user Ariana Lenarsky Tuesday and surfaced by Motherboard Wednesday, linked to an article titled "The United States Was Founded as a White People's Republic" on the website of the New Order, a Neo-Nazi group. It was paid for by the account @New_Order_1488.
We made a mistake here and we apologize. Our automated system allowed an ad promoting hate. Against our policy. We did a retro and fixed! https://t.co/7gvycmzpsm
— jack (@jack) November 17, 2016
It apparently took three days for Dorsey (the man who has two full-time CEO roles and whose chief operating officer of his struggling company is stepping down) to apologize. But the account was suspended and the ad was removed within an hour of being live, according to a Twitter spokesperson.
Twitter's ad policy "prohibits the promotion of hate content, sensitive topics, and violence globally," as listed on its website.
Our ads policy prohibits abusive content, hateful conduct. Our automated system missed one yesterday. We fixed and learned from our mistake.
— Twitter Marketing (@TwitterMktg) November 17, 2016
The promoted tweet featuring an image of eight white children on a farm apparently seemed innocuous. Twitter's system does have tools to recognize visuals and texts that could be in violation of its policy, such as a swastika or a racial slur, but the account's altered image of a swastika as its profile picture was not flagged. Neither were the terms #WhiteAmerica and New Order, a known Neo-Nazi group.
— Ariana Lenarsky (@aardvarsk) November 16, 2016
While Twitter does forbid such content, this ad — like others in the past — was able to make it on the site since much of its advertising system is automated.
"We've identified where our process broke down and are making immediate changes to prevent this from happening in the future," a Twitter spokesperson said. "Specifically, we're going to be adding more keywords and image recognition parameters to more quickly flag this type of content for review."