Every once in a while, a state court ruling can get me to sit up and take notice. And this one did.
A California State Superior Court judge has ruled that you can sue Twitter for falsely advertising itself as a free speech platform. Yep, Twitter can now be sued because the policy of banning is directly against the stated policy of free speech.
Jared Taylor, who bills himself as a “white advocate”, had sued Twitter claiming that the social media platform violated his free speech rights and discriminated against him when it permanently suspended his accounts in December. He also claimed that the company’s method of banning people went against the stated policy of free speech.
Unfortunately for Taylor, the judge rejected the claim that Taylor had been discriminated against. However, Judge Harold Kahn did say that Taylor properly supported his allegations that Twitter’s policy of suspending accounts, in the judge’s words, “at any time, for any reason or for no reason” may be unconscionable and that the company calling itself a platform devoted to free speech may be misleading and therefore fraudulent. Therefore, his lawsuit against Twitter can move ahead.
Noah Peters, Taylor’s attorney was quite pleased with the ruling. “This ruling has massive implications for the platform going forward…this is the first time that a social media company’s argument that it can censor user speech has been rejected by a court.”
Jared Taylor does not sound like a completely nice person, to be honest. He calls himself a “racial realist”, defending racial separation, and claiming the races are “not equal”. However, this lawsuit is not about those particular views; the trial is about Twitter’s disallowance of free speech although they use that term to advertise the social media platform.
In short, this lawsuit is about whether Twitter or other platforms can deny users services based on their perceived viewpoints and affiliations.
At heart is the question of why Jared Taylor gets banned, but guys like Louis Farrakhan who rants and raves against the Jews and white people is still allowed on.
When Twitter gets around to banning people, they often cite hate speech or hate facts. Definitions that have absolutely nothing to do with concrete issues, but are more “in the eye of the beholder”. And it seems to some, that the standards of hate speech are different if you are on the Left.
Breitbart has reported that one of the most high profile people to have been banned from Twitter is Islam critic Tommy Robinson (STILL in actual jail) after he posted statistics showing that Muslims are vastly overrepresented in child grooming gangs in the U.K. Robinson is now taking Twitter to court to prove that “facts are now treated as hate.”
Twitter banned conservative, undercover filmmaker, James O’Keefe after he aired one of Project Veritas’ exposes of the social media giant. The footage captured by O’Keefe’s group showed Twitter employees talking about what steps they take to keep conservatives and Trump supporters off the site.
One Twitter employee even bragged about “shadow banning political accounts” a practice that Twitter has continually denied using. Another employee claimed that accounts that expressed an interest in “god, guns, and America” were likely to be flagged as “bots.” Another employee, Mo Norai, explained that Twitter moderators regularly discriminated against accounts deemed to be pro-Trump.
For a free speech platform, Twitter seems to do a lot of scrubbing and banning of things employees don’t agree with.
And now, it seems, they can get sued for false advertising.
I hope this case actually gets a hearing. And it will be interesting if libertarian or conservative groups can start making the same arguments against Facebook and others.