Twitter ad campaign runs afoul of city vandalism laws
EXAMINER STAFF; Sep. 12, 2019 4:45 a.m.; LINK with photos
Some BART riders have called a recent Twitter ad blitz around Powell Station “irritating” and “overkill,” but city officials are calling it illegal.
Or at least part of it.
The social media company launched an ad campaign this week in San Francisco and New York City that covered the walls of the station with images of user tweets about Twitter.
All well and good, if potentially annoying for some viewers, but the campaign continued outside with sidewalk chalk stencils extending into the Tenderloin — and that puts it in breach of The City’s vandalism laws, the Department of Public Works said Thursday.
“Our sidewalks are not to be used for commercial purposes, they are not billboards,” said Rachel Gordon, a spokesperson for DPW. “Any company that advertises on our sidewalks is breaking the law.”
Gordon said DPW will typically send crews out to remove the stencils and contact the person or company responsible to collect the cost of the cleanup.
“Our crews really should be focused on other areas, but we want to keep our sidewalks free of commercial content,” Gordon said.
A Twitter spokesperson on Thursday said the company’s media agency had “confirmed necessary approvals ahead of the chalk installation.”
“We haven’t been made aware of any legal issues related to the chalk. We will of course comply with any requests made by the city,” the spokesperson said.
Twitter is not the first company to run afoul of The City’s strict vandalism laws with sidewalk stencils.
Lyft, to give one recent example, drew legal action from City Attorney Dennis Herrera in 2015 after it stenciled ads on sidewalks across The City.