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Trump digital director: Twitter killed campaign ad buy critical of Clinton

Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

President-elect Donald Trump's team had a big ad campaign on Twitter paid for and ready to go, but the social media network pulled the plug one day before it was set to go live, according to the billionaire businessman's digital director.

Brad Parscale, along with Gary Coby, director of advertising and fundraising for the Trump campaign, took to Twitter Monday to complain about the "restrictive" platform after incoming first lady Melania Trump's account was apparently hacked.

According to BuzzFeed News, the ad buy was a sponsored emoji package critical of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that was scheduled to run one day before a presidential debate. The ad, which cost cost thousands of dollars, Parscale told the outlet, was sidelined because Twitter "thought the emoji would be too damaging to Hillary."

Twitter claimed it determined not to run any political attacks in the form of emojis. But Parscale, for his part, was frustrated by the whole ordeal, wondering why the company would take campaign money just to kill the ad: "Why sell it to us?"

The Washington Examiner reported some of the details of this exchange between the Trump campaign and Twitter last month, and in a statement at the time, the networking site said it flushed the ad buy due to lack of "transparency":

We have had specific discussions with several political organizations, including the Trump campaign, regarding branded emojis as part of broad advertising campaigns on Twitter. We believe that political advertising merits a level of disclosure and transparency that branded political emojis do not meet, and we ultimately decided not to permit this particular format for any political advertising.

But Parscale sees it differently.

"Companies just didn’t like how we were using their platforms in a way that might be negative to [Clinton] or show messaging that they didn’t like," Parscale, who described working with Twitter as difficult, told BuzzFeed.

However, he also recognized the fact that, given Trump is somewhat of a social media aficionado, social media — Twitter, Facebook, Google, Reddit — have been very helpful for the president-elect.

"I feel like those platforms helped us win the campaign," Parscale said. "Twitter was obviously crucial, Facebook was crucial, Google was crucial. Those were the three main mediums that help us digitally to win the election."

Social media played a big role in the 2016 presidential election and has faced quite a bit of criticism since Trump's surprising upset win on Election Day.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced scrutiny over his social media platform's unintentional promotion of fake news articles, though he said it's a "pretty crazy idea" to suggest the false information impacted the election. Similarly, Google was found to be promoting bogus news reports. Both mediums plan to combat the issue.

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