Twitter Not Stimulated By Vibrator Ad

A Promoted Account For Vibease, a Remotely-Controlled Vibrator, Was Removed

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Twitter inaugurated its self-serve ad platform in February and ushered in a new revenue stream from small- and medium-size businesses in addition to something apparently unwanted: vibrator ads.

There's an app for that .
There's an app for that .

An Ad Age reporter last night inadvertently outed an advertiser that was in violation of Twitter's promoted products policy when he tweeted about seeing a promoted account (an ad where an advertiser's handle is displayed alongside organic recommendation for who to follow) for Vibease, a vibrator that can be remotely controlled with an iPhone or Android phone, which markets itself as a way for long-distance couples to stay close. Half an hour later, he got a reply from Ravi Narasimhan, a Twitter product manager for self-serve ads saying, "Thanks for pointing this out. Taking a look now."

Twitter is now in the awkward position of trying to open the floodgates for small businesses while maintaining a safe environment for brand advertisers, a balance that has tripped up other social networks (i.e., MySpace) that came before it. It's a problem that Facebook (which also restricts ads for "adult products") also contends with on a much larger scale.

However, gray areas are bound to emerge where the vague wording of the policy doesn't render a clear verdict, and such is the case of Vibease. The words "vibrator" or "sex" don't appear anywhere in the official product description in the bio section on Vibease's Twitter page, where it's described as a "personal massager," and the product itself is shaped like a rabbit.

Twitter wouldn't confirm that the promoted account had been removed, but the writing on the wall for Vibease is clear. A spokeswoman sent Ad Age the following statement:

"As stated in our Promoted Products Policy, some Twitter Promoted Products have restrictions based on legal, regulatory and user safety commitments. Some examples include regulated pharmaceutical products, adult sexual products and services, and weapons." (An exception is made for dating and marriage services provided they're not overtly sexual, don't reference prostitution and are clearly geared toward adults over 18.)

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