Canadian free speech advocate Lindsay Shepherd recently got into an online argument. Her opponent was Jessica Yaniv, a trans activist who has filed multiple discrimination claims against bikini waxers. Yaniv made disparaging remarks about Shepherd’s genitals, called her child “ugly,” and mocked the fact that Shepherd suffers from having a septate uterus.
Sheperd responded with, “At least I have a uterus, you fat ugly man.” Since Yaniv identifies as a woman, Twitter considered this to be a serious offense and permanently deleted Sheppard’s account. As Twitter executive Vijaya Gadde made clear in an interview with Joe Rogan, the company will take action when someone is “misgendered.” When someone promotes terrorism?
Or at least you would get that impression from Shaun King's account anyway. When an Antifa member armed with a rifle and incendiary devices attacked an ICE facility this weekend, King praised the assault in a series of now deleted tweets, comparing the perpetrator to John Brown and hailing him as a martyr. Although Twitter's rules forbid promoting violence, King's account is still up.
King is hardly alone in endorsing Antifa violence. Conservative journalist Andy Ngo suffered a brain hemorrhage after being beaten by Antifa earlier this month. Ngo was also doused with milkshakes that Portland police say contained quick drying cement.
Most people would be horrified by such behavior, but writer Sarah Gailey isn't most people. She not only embraced the milkshaking, but suggested that her political opponents could be killed. As with King, her Twitter account remains active.
Twitter also prohibits racist content...except when it doesn't: New York Times editor Sarah Jeong put out hundreds of racist tweets targeting white people; instead of having her account removed, she was given a blue check mark.
Pennsylvania Democrat Brian Sims recorded himself harassing three pro-life teenagers along with an elderly woman, and offered Twitter followers money if they could help doxx his victims. While Twitter claims to ban doxxing, it hasn't banned the state representative.
Of course, the leniency only runs one way: while leftist can promote violence, racism, and doxxing, conservatives get censored for advising journalists to "learn to code." And under federal law, that's a problem.
Twitter and other social media companies owe their existence to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. It shields them from liability for posts made by users, but only on the condition that they operate as a neutral platform rather than a publisher. Obviously, that isn't happening. Missouri's Sen. Josh Hawley has proposed legislation to hold big tech accountable, and while it has little chance of passing in this session, that could change after 2020. Because while Vijaya Gadde insists that the rules are enforced fairly, we know that's a lie.
We need to make it a costly one.
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