Twitter Now Purging Regular Conservatives

By Rachel Alexander Published on December 10, 2018

If Twitter hasn’t suspended or banned you yet, don’t feel relieved. You may be next.

When Twitter and other big tech companies started banning fringy rightwing characters over the past year or so, few people objected, because even most conservatives weren’t sympathetic to those purged. It’s hard to feel sympathy for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. But once the radicals were banned, it became far easier to ban others.

Now, people tend to talk about public issues mostly on the big tech platforms. Minority viewpoints can use them to get around the mainstream or legacy media. A biased article in The New York Times or The Washington Post is more likely to be challenged by a small website communicating with its readers through Facebook and Twitter, than by a conservative magazine.

Need to be Concerned

We need to be concerned when big tech starts censoring certain types of speech, even if we disagree with it. Big Tech doesn’t have to provide platforms for free speech, since they’re private companies. The First Amendment doesn’t apply. The tech companies can censor as much as they want to without violating the Constitution’s free speech protections.

But when they censor conservative speech, they corrupt the free exchange of ideas they claim to value. Each one declares itself a place for people to freely exchange ideas. They claim to be neutral as to politics, religion, and other matters. But they’re not.

Google, Facebook and Twitter have all censored those on the right. How do they do it? By treating some speech as hate speech — even when it’s not. Criticism of Islam or transgender activism has become a top reason for censorship. Twitter recently revised its terms of service to prohibit this type of speech. The new policy states, “We prohibit targeting individuals with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanise, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category. This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”

What does that last sentence mean? “Misgendering” means calling a male a male and a female a female, based on the reasonable conviction that your biological sex determines what sex you are. “Deadnaming” means using the name someone used before they “transitioned” to claim to be a different sex, based on the same reasonable conviction. Neither is intrinsically hateful. But both are banned as hate-speech.

Notably, the “protected categories” include areas that Christians and those on the right are likely to criticize. Topics that the left is likely to criticize, like Israel, are generally not included. You want to trash poor rural white people? Go right ahead.

First They Came For Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos

Twitter first started banning fringe characters like Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos. Then they moved on to vocal voices on the right like Laura Loomer. Twitter banned the Jewish Loomer for criticizing Minnesota congressman-elect Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). She called Omar “anti Jewish” and said the Muslim congresswoman is a member of a religion in which “homosexuals are oppressed” and “women are abused” and “forced to wear the hijab.”

Nothing that Loomer tweeted was incorrect. Omar has said she supports the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement against the Jewish state.

Loomer posted on her website about the incident. “I am just one example of someone who has been banned for discussing issues on social media that big tech companies have deemed as untouchable. All across the world, people are being silenced, censored, and even jailed for having online discussions about Islam, immigration, jihad, and Sharia. I was banned for posting facts about Islam. In other words, non-Muslims are being subjected to Islamic blasphemy laws on social media, progressively.”

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Loomer fought back by chaining herself to Twitter’s headquarters. Young black conservative CJ Pearson tweeted his support of Loomer after she was banned. He was promptly suspended by Twitter. Twitter notified him that it was because he was under age 13, too young for a Twitter account. But Pearson is 16. After outrage went viral on Twitter, his account was reinstated. Loomer has still not been reinstated.

Perhaps the most troubling ban so far was of conservative Jesse Kelly. Kelly is a combat veteran who is wildly popular on Twitter. He isn’t considered a fringe rightwinger. He’s a regular guy on the right who others often retweet. Twitter told him they were permanently banning him, with no reason given.

The outcry over banning Kelly was so loud that Twitter backed down and reinstated him. U.S. Senator-elect Josh Hawley said that Congress should investigate Twitter over the incident.

The Right Fights Back

Those on the right are starting to fight back. Fox News stopped using Twitter on November 8, after left wing activists posted the home address of Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Twitter.

The popular right-leaning law professor Glenn Reynolds, known as Instapundit, deactivated his account after Kelly was banned. “TWITTER’S GONE CRAZY BANNING PEOPLE ON THE RIGHT, so I’ve deactivated my Twitter account,” Reynolds wrote on his Instapundit blog. Reynolds is  well-respected conservative. No one has ever accused him of being an extremist.

He added a longer explanation later, which said in part, “Why should I provide free content to people I don’t like, who hate me? I’m currently working on a book on social media, and I keep coming back to the point that Twitter is far and away the most socially destructive of the various platforms. So I decided to suspend them, as they are suspending others. At least I’m giving my reasons, which is more than they’ve done usually.”

This shouldn’t be a concern just for political conservatives. This creeping censorship is going to hurt Christians and Christian organizations. It may hurt us more than anyone else. Conservative Christians are concerned about Islamism, Sharia law in the U.S., and the trend of transgenderism. Any time The Stream tweets an article critical of transgenderism or radical Islam, will its account and those of its writers be banned?

 

Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC. Send tips to rachel.alexander@stream.org.

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