Twitter Removes Block On Pro-Phil Robertson Petition, Says Mistakenly Flagged As Spam

Those who wanted to share a petition calling on A&E to immediately restore Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson to his show found Twitter was blocking sharing the URL to the petition site as spam. Twitter has resolved the problem, saying it was due to an error with a third-party service it uses to stop spam links.

“The URL was mistakenly flagged as spam tonight, by an outside organization that tracks spam sources. We have restored access and apologize for the error,” Twitter told Marketing Land, in an emailed statement.

Faith Driven Consumer, the organization behind the petition at, tweeted about the block today though its own @FaithConsumer Twitter account:

The organization linked to a page where it explained that tweets with are being flagged as having “spammy or unsafe content.”

Here’s how that looked when we tried sharing through Twitter for Mac, for the first edition of this story, posted at 5:51am ET on December 23:

In that case, I was told “Status contains malware.” When I tried sharing through Twitter’s web site, I got a message saying that a URL in the tweet “appears to link to a page that has spammy or unsafe content,” as shown below:

The Wrap has an article that explains a bit more, showing a message that Twitter apparently provided to Faith Consumer explaining that it should use a Google tool to determine if the site has been flagged as being unsafe. The message goes on to say that even if the Google tool reports the site as safe, Twitter might still decide a site is unsafe for apparently other reasons.

As the site wasn’t flagged by Google, this appeared to be solely down to some issue Twitter was having — and that turned out to be the case.

Many on Twitter expressed upset, before the issue was resolved. A search for “#istandwithphil” on Twitter bought up several tweets per minute from those specifically wanting the block lifted:


An alternative URL for the petition,, wasn’t being blocked. So, the problem was related specifically to the domain.

Faith Consumer also said this was the third major shutdown of a pro-Phil Robertson social media account but didn’t say what the other two were. Technically, this wasn’t a shutdown of a social media account. It was Twitter blocking a URL — which didn’t look good — but Twitter hadn’t blocked the actual account behind the URL, Faith Consumer.

Postscript (Dec. 24, 12:30am ET): The story was updated to reflect the block being removed.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Features & Analysis | Twitter


About The Author: is Founding Editor of Marketing Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search marketing and internet marketing issues, who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • QueenGossip

    What if you shorten the url? Or post a link to a page containing the link? We can’t allow them to quiet us.

  • Danny Sullivan

    Shortening won’t work. But is the alternative address to the petition, on a different domain, that works fine.

  • natethegreat

    Twitter just blocked this website from being Tweeted out between users!!! Now that is intolerance of the Highest Order!

  • Bill Jarett

    “The URL was mistakenly flagged as spam tonight, by
    an outside organization that tracks spam sources. We have restored
    access and apologize for the error,”-

    Who exactly is this “outside” organization? GLAAD? NAMBLA?

  • FCN

    nice update. This shows that the days of passive consumerism are gone. We may now speak back.

  • aznavyvet

    sure it was an error, an error on your part to block support for Phil, I was wishing that the FCC would look into your actions to see if any laws were broken.

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