New York House candidate accuses Hulu of censoring campaign ad

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Suraj Patel — a Democratic congressional candidate in New York — is accusing Hulu of requiring his campaign to remove language related to abortion, climate change, and gun laws from a campaign ad before it would be allowed to air on the platform, as first reported by Jezebel on Wednesday.

According to Patel, a Hulu representative called his campaign notifying them that the 30-second ad violated an “unwritten Hulu policy” related to “sensitive” content in political ads shortly after it was submitted to the platform on June 30th.

“Hulu demanded we remove footage of Jan. 6 and the word ‘climate change’ from our ad as they were deemed ‘sensitive,’” Patel said on Twitter Wednesday. “How are the two of the biggest issues facing our country – our Democracy itself and the planet ‘too sensitive to talk about?’”

Hulu did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge on Wednesday.

Jezebel reported that Patel sent a letter to Hulu and Disney CEOs Joe Earley and Bob Chapek on Tuesday demanding that the companies overturn the reported policy. In the letter, Patel argues that streaming platforms like Hulu are vital avenues for progressive candidates to reach young voters.

“As this is your national policy, there are national implications here,” Patel told the CEOs. “Messaging that is out of touch with the times fails them which is why those voters are typically so sporadic – politicians fail to speak to them about issues that matter to them on mediums they watch and consume.”

Patel is running to unseat incumbent Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, representing Manhattan’s 12th District. Both Democrats have been in office for nearly three years, but they were recently redrawn into the same district. In New York’s 2020 Democratic primary, the two long-serving Democrats will face off against each other and insurgents like Patel.

Throughout the 2020 election cycle, social media platforms like Facebook and Google repeatedly changed their policies on political ads, adjusting to new moderation challenges posed by campaigns. In 2019, Twitter banned all political ads on its platform.

Speaking with Jezebel, a Patel campaign source said the Hulu representative explained that there was “a five-second limit or something like that on how long you can stay on sensitive issues.”

To appease Hulu, Patel’s campaign replaced the ad’s mention of “climate change” with “democracy” and replaced footage of the January 6th riots at the Capitol with images of protesters holding QAnon signs. That version of the ad was sent to Hulu on July 1st and approved on July 5th.

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