(Courtesy @oneCharlieGray)

Twitter ad campaign runs afoul of city vandalism laws

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.

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Confusion swirls over uneven eviction protections as rent collection begins

Housing advocates warn some type of rental assistance or forgiveness will be necessary

New shelter-in-place extension restricts most housing and commercial construction

Order also limits size of funerals, requires social distancing at essential businesses

California schools unlikely to reopen this year, state superintendent warns

San Francisco schools prepare to implement distance learning for students

SF sees ‘stark and immediate’ revenue losses over coronavirus pandemic

Report projects $1.7B city budget deficit over next two fiscal years

Help the San Francisco Examiner, SF Weekly continue our mission of providing free, local news

This week, I was faced with the heartbreaking task of reducing the hours — and therefore the pay — of the very journalists who report, write, edit and photograph that news.

Most Read