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Spotify Pulls Ads For Anti-Trans Campaign in Massachusetts After Outcry

Some Massachusetts voters and transgender advocates are deleting their Spotify accounts after hearing ads encouraging them to roll back transgender non-discrimination protections in the state when they head to the polls next week.

The music streaming service confirmed it had been running ads for the ‘No on 3’ campaign, which would remove public accommodations protections for trans people in the nation’s first statewide trans ballot referendum on Tuesday.

The ads have since been removed, according to Spotify.

“We believe in maintaining a diversity of voices and content on our platform; however, this ad violates portions of our advertising editorial policy and was served to our users in error,” the company said in a statement to INTO. “We will continue to improve our systems to ensure that all advertisements meet our advertising guidelines that are available on Spotify.”

When pressed for information about who purchased the ‘No on 3’ ads, the company did not respond. Spotify also declined to confirm whether this radio ad, paid for by the conservative Renew MA Coalition, was the same one running on its digital streaming service. INTO has not yet been able to identify, or listen to, the ad in question.

Renew MA Coalition did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did the Keep MA Safe campaign, which originally brought forth the anti-trans measure that Massachusetts voters will weigh in on next Tuesday. Keep MA Safe has run television ads that suggest young women and girls will be sexually assaulted in bathrooms if statewide transgender equality protections are left in place, encouraging people to vote them out.

Renew MA Coalition and the Massachusetts Family Institute appear to be the primary donors backing the Keep MA Safe campaign and the ‘No on 3’ measure, according to campaign finance filings. Like so many of the local anti-transgender campaigns taking place around the country, the groups behind the ‘No on 3’ measure are linked to the powerhouse anti-LGBTQ law firm Alliance Defending Freedom — which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute funding the Keep MA Safe campaign, is an allied attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom.

Spotify sent INTO a link to its advertising terms but would not specify exactly which term was violated by the ad. The company has a policy against brands running “Content that promotes stereotypes or inaccurately portrays or attacks an individual or group on the basis of age, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or handicap.”

Spotify users were swift to dump the service upon learning about the ad.

The ‘Yes on 3’ Campaign to uphold transgender protections in Massachusetts did not respond to a request for comment.

Image via Getty


Kate Sosin and Mary Emily O'Hara