ActiveCampaign Blocked Us From Sending Email Because It Mentioned COVID
During this pandemic, there have been many instances where Big Tech platforms have stopped or removed content regarding COVID-19. Some of that content may have been verifiably false, while others verifiably true, yet perhaps inconvenient for the narrative being held in mainstream conjecture.
At The Pulse, we had not experienced any censorship to date - until this afternoon. We tried to send out an email to our email list about our latest Setty Report, a weekly report with Dr. Madhava Setty where some episodes provide balanced insight into the ongoing COVID situation to help people stay up to date. The content we tried to send out is here, I transparently draw your attention to it so anyone can recognize it is simply balanced journalism.
I reached out to ActiveCampaign to determine what had happened. Our backend dashboard showed our email was held up for some reason. Initially AC was asking details about where we generate our subscribers from and were making sure everything was compliant, which it was. Then they mentioned it was never about needing to know where our subscribers were from, but about something else.
We were sent to their "Acceptable Use Policy," which was last updated Nov 3rd, 2016, and therefore obviously states nothing about COVID-19. I ventured through the requirements on the page and saw nothing that stated we were breaking the rules.
To me, this felt like a lazy attempt to provide some explanation of what is an internal policy that the company has no public disclosure of.
Shortly after that email I reached out to ActiveCampaign asking for a statement on why they let other users we are well aware of send out COVID content. They have since gone silent.
To be clear, we are a media company whose business relies on providing our readers with news that is helpful to their decision making process about many things in life. Our Setty Report episode looked only at Pfizer's own data, and offered no opinions. We reported on, as any journalist should, the latest vaccine data. This type of content has landed in my inbox hundreds of times from media companies around the world during COVID.
Interestingly, ActiveCampaign makes it clear that multiple clients they have mentioned COVID-19 in their subject lines and emails. In an article titled "12 COVID-19 Email Examples That Get It Right," AC points out that one of the best examples was by StubHub, who wrote a subject line for their email "This email has nothing to do with Covid-19." It discussed how times are tough for artists during COVID-19, and offered ways for fans to engage in music via their LiveHub.
You can also note in their article that multiple clients use the word "COVID-19" in the body of their emails.
There is another article on their website titled "Now Isn’t the Time to Stop Talking to Your Customers" which discusses how businesses should maintain communication with their audiences during COVID. In the email they rightly recognize that,
"A lot of businesses are sending emails about COVID-19. It makes sense — the global situation is changing quickly and the economy is changing with it. If you run a business, now is exactly the time you want to be staying in touch with your customers (the people who are most likely to give you more of their business)."
As businesses have to adjust, it's important that they be able to reach out to their customers and let them know what's going on. Thus, ActiveCampaign has provided some advice on how to businesses can communicate with their clients.
"In your brief communication, quickly share:
What has changed because of the situation (closures, delays in service, communications)
What steps you’re taking in response to the problem"
Assuming a business is sending out an email about COVID-19 updates, how are they going to let their customers know what is going on clearly if they don't mention COVID or the pandemic? You would assume many clients had those words in the subject and body of the email. So why make the statement that due to worries of having content ending up in junk folders, you can't say COVID?
It's likely what ActiveCampaign told us was merely a polite way of saying "we won't support balanced journalism about COVID," but I can only assume. It may not be their personal stance, but making sure they don't get their business in trouble - regardless, is it a good idea to block public discourse on important issues? We seem to be on a slippery slope here where big corporations are losing the courage to take any form of risk related to allowing discussion about COVID, which dangerously leaves all dialogue in the hands of organizations who have a direct conflict of interest in how they report on COVID.
If ActiveCampaign were worried about all of their customers being affected by brands talking about COVID, why would they let big partners do it but not us? Not to mention, it's more than likely thousands, if not 10's of thousands, of their clients mention COVID in their subject lines and emails. I know because I know more than 5 myself - and their content leads to articles, videos and podcasts about COVID.
If you feel we are headed down a path of increasing censorship that is shutting down important public discourse, consider retweeting our story on Twitter using this link. Perhaps ActiveCampaign will reconsider. We could really use the support!