Twitter temporarily banned ads for a French government-sponsored campaign because of the French government's own anti-fake news laws.
In December, the French government passed a law targeting fake news during elections. Under these new guidelines, any social media campaign needs to disclose who funded it and how much money was spent. French President Emmanuel Macron was a big proponent of this law.
As Twitter tries to comply with laws in each country, its current guidelines for the European Union ban "political campaigning ads" in "Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, France, Hungary, and Portugal." It also stipulates that "[i]ssue advocacy ads are permitted without restriction except in France."
What happened now?
In an effort to encourage voter registration, the French government created a #OuiJeVote (#YesIVote) campaign. This campaign was set to launch Thursday — or, at least, that was the plan.
The French government wanted to run paid advertisements promoting the campaign, but since the #OuiJeVote campaign didn't meet the regulations laid out in the new law, Twitter rejected the government's request. French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner scolded Twitter in a tweet in French, telling the company to focus on banning pro-terrorism content and not a voter registration campaign.
La priorité de Twitter devrait être de combattre les contenus faisant l'apologie du terrorisme. Pas les campagnes i… https://t.co/SqgHVpeDQA— Christophe Castaner (@Christophe Castaner)1554225820.0
The French government told Agence France-Presse (according to a translation provided by the BBC), "Twitter does not know how to do that [follow the regulations laid out in the new law] today, and so decided to have a completely hard-line policy, which is to cut any so-called political campaign." It also insisted that the voter registration campaign was not in any way a political campaign.
After facing criticism for the decision, Twitter relented. It explained in a tweet in French that it had reversed its decision "after numerous exchanges."
Suite à loi "Manipulation de l'information", nous avons décidé d'interdire toute publicité ciblée en France dont le… https://t.co/66kWotpC4n— Twitter France (@Twitter France)1554362240.0