Facebook is under fire after a national organization accuses them of deliberately removing their political ad in Tennessee.

The anti-abortion ad endorses Republican candidate for Senate Marsha Blackburn and attacks Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen's stance on the issue. Facebook said in their original message to the organization that the ad was low quality, and may exaggerate information.

Facebook is now calling it a mistake.

"It's always disappointing when they do that, but we know Facebook and other search engines, Twitter, YouTube, they subjectively manipulate their algorithms," said Blackburn.

"So much of the political discourse is happening online these days, so it's important for us to be in that space. The timing of it is all very suspect," said Mallory Quigley of Susan B. Anthony List.

Susan B. Anthony List is a national pro-life organization that works to put pro-life politicians in office. Quigley, a spokesperson for the organization, accuses Facebook of removing the ad deliberately. Quigley says Facebook is a tool that both sides use to communicate with voters.

"I think it reveals bias on Facebook's part, because I haven't heard of Planned Parenthood or any group on the pro-abortion left having their ads suspended or taken down," said Quigley.

Marsha Blackburn calls it particularly frustrating in a time when social media is such a key political platform.

"It builds that community online and be able to expand your message, and that really is a good thing. It's useful and people like it. What they don't appreciate is when one of the platforms decides to subjectively censor," said Blackburn.

Just last year, Twitter pulled an ad by the Blackburn campaign, calling a line about her efforts to investigate Planned Parenthood inflammatory.

In the video Blackburn said, "I fought Planned Parenthood and we stopped the sale of baby body parts. Thank God."

Blackburn says people bring their bias to work.

"We will continue to work with them to make sure they are not practicing censorship," said Blackburn.

In a statement, a Facebook representative tells News4 that "this ad does not violate Facebook's policies and should never have been disapproved. We're sorry for this mistake - the ad has been restored and is now running on Facebook."

Marsha Blackburn responded to Facebook's statement, saying that she's glad "they realized they made a mistake and were censoring something that ought not to be censored." She said that her campaign is happy that Susan B. Anthony List had their ad restored.

Susan B. Anthony List said several similar ads of theirs have been removed from Facebook in four states since early October, but have all since been restored.

A spokesperson for the Phil Bredesen campaign tells News4 that "it's unfortunate that Congresswoman Blackburn continues to double down on negativity rather than offer her ideas for Tennessee."

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Reporter

Rebecca Cardenas is a Murrow-award winning journalist who joined News4 as a reporter in September 2017. She currently covers the court systems in Middle Tennessee.

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