FeminismGuest Bloggers

Guest Post: Twitter’s Contraception Problem

Editor’s Note: Jenny Splitter, who also blogs on Skepchick’s parenting blog Grounded Parents, wrote this piece to raise awareness on why you never see contraceptives advertised on Twitter. 


If you’re active in the Twitterverse, you may have noticed those sponsored tweets that show up in your feed about Fage yogurt or Puma sneakers. What you won’t see is adult or sexual content, which Twitter defines as porn, prostitution, nudity, lingerie, (some) dating sites, erotic massage, sex toys, mail order brides or contraceptives. Contraceptives? Why does Twitter insist on including a common component of most women’s healthcare with erotic massage and mail order brides?

Twitter does allow for an exception to its contraception exclusion–condoms–but only if the sponsored tweet doesn’t include “sexual content.” Many health programs, safer sex programs, and HIV prevention campaigns are eager to promote their content on Twitter, as they believe they can grow their reach exponentially through these promoted tweets, but Twitter’s exclusion policy and its application has proven incredibly frustrating. 

Twitter’s system for rejecting promoted tweets is automated, and the result is an often over-broad application of its own policy. Just ask Lucky Bloke condoms–whose rather bland tweet about “lousy condoms” was rejected from Twitter’s paid advertising program. DC’s Department of Health account (@FreeCondomsDC) also recently found its sponsored tweets banned and only got Twitter to lift the ban after multiple reporters reached out to Twitter for comment. 

Twitter seems to have made no effort to address why advertisers can promote a tweet about condoms but not other forms of contraception. Why are condom manufacturers allowed to utilize the program but manufacturers of the pill and the IUD precluded? Unfortunately, Twitter’s refusal to comment on the policy leaves us with little clarity. Obviously Twitter can adopt whatever advertising policy it wants but users can also demand better. There’s no reason why health care providers and groups like Planned Parenthood shouldn’t be able to promote their tweets about all forms of contraception.

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Author’s Bio: Jenny Splitter is a writer and over-scheduled mom of two living in Washington, DC. She spends her glamorous days trying to write whatever she can, counting 1-2-3 in a slow yet threatening manner to her children, playing with gluten and working to eradicate dog hair from the planet (or at least her home). You can follow her on Twitter and Google+.


Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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