Tech companies censor users when they break the terms of service. But what happens to tech companies when they break the law?
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Twitter’s new advertising campaign in the city breaks San Francisco’s laws. Twitter posted several pictures of stenciled statements about Twitter on sidewalks. However, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works, the chalk drawings are illegal.
She told the Chronicle, “That’s not the use of the sidewalks. We can go and document them. If they don’t remove them immediately, we’ll send a crew to remove them and charge them.”
Twitter also used the same tactic in New York City, where allegedly officials aren’t sure if they broke a law or not.
A Twitter spokeswoman Siobhan Murphy told the Chronicle that the chalk images were around the Twitter offices. However, they are not. “The stencils stretched well beyond the sidewalks immediately around the headquarters.”
Twitter also made a claim that it had consulted with the city arts commission already, but the San Francisco Arts Commission said that Twitter had done no such thing. In addition, it would have made no sense for that commission to be consulted. It has no say in advertising.
The city plans to treat the ads as graffiti vandalism. Gordon said that if San Francisco has to remove the ads themselves, Twitter will have to pay for it.