SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey apologized for running an ad sponsored by a white supremacist group in violation of its own policies.
Dorsey blamed Twitter’s automated system that allows Twitter accounts to place ads on the service.
“We made a mistake here and we apologize,” he tweeted on Thursday.
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.
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.
Twitter’s hateful conduct policy prohibits content that “targets people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.”
The ad was an embarrassing gaffe for Twitter which earlier this week suspended high-profile accounts associated with the alt-right movement, a loosely organized group that, among other things, espouses white nationalism. The crackdown came on the heels of Twitter’s pledge to combat hate speech.