Twitter demands users delete the truth
The Babylon Bee runs afoul of social media censors again
Since Sunday, Twitter has held hostage the account of The Babylon Bee, a conservative Christian satire website that made a joke about a transgender Biden administration official.
On March 13, USA Today included U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, a biological man who identifies as a woman, in its list of “women of the year.” Two days later, the Bee posted a satirical article naming Levine its man of the year.
The article said Levine “serves proudly as the first man in that position to dress like a western cultural stereotype of a woman.” After the Bee posted a link to the article on Twitter, the platform locked its account for “hateful conduct.” On appeal, Twitter said it would only restore the publication’s account if it deleted the tweet.
Twitter’s “policy on hateful conduct” states, “You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”
In practice, the social media giant appears to target users who post on issues such as transgenderism while seemingly ignoring accounts with ties to gross human rights abuses.
Twitter has allowed Taliban-associated accounts, such as those of the Islamist group’s Ministry of Interior Affairs and its spokesman, Qari Saeed Khosty. Since regaining power in Afghanistan, the Taliban has put back into place policies limiting women’s mobility, rights, and access to education. As of Wednesday, girls are barred from attending secondary school.
The Bee pointed out the irony in a Tuesday article titled, “Taliban Spokesman Finally Banned From Twitter After Sharing Babylon Bee Headline.”
“Twitter has said they will not unlock [Taliban spokesman Mohammed Naeem Warda’s] account until he deletes the hateful, bigoted material,” the article read. “Once he does, he will be able to join President Putin, Antifa terrorists, the CCP, and violent pornographers in using Twitter freely.”
The Kremlin — or “President of Russia” — has a functioning Twitter account that is not suspended even though the invasion of Ukraine continues. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an official statement Wednesday that Russian soldiers have committed war crimes. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is perpetrating genocide and human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang, also has a Twitter account.
The platform also temporarily suspended Bee editor-in-chief Kyle Mann over a tweet he posted Monday stating, “Maybe they’ll let us back into our @TheBabylonBee Twitter account if we throw a few thousand Uyghurs in a concentration camp.” He tweeted that his account was unlocked as of Wednesday. Twitter also locked the account of Adam Ford, founder of the Bee, for tweeting a screenshot of the Bee’s post, Fox News reported.
U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., was also suspended from her campaign Twitter account over the topic of transgenderism in February. Hartzler, who is running for U.S. Senate, has a campaign ad in which she says, “Women’s sports are for women, not men pretending to be women.” Her account is still locked after she refused to take down a retweet of a campaign video, said Dallas Ernst, her campaign’s communications director. (The congresswoman still has access to her current office Twitter account.)
In an emailed statement, Hartzler noted that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives platforms like Twitter immunity from lawsuits on the condition they remain neutral: “But they are not a neutral platform, they are pushing their woke beliefs and censoring speech that they don’t like.”
Bee CEO Seth Dillon said Twitter told him it would restore the Bee’s account if it deleted the tweet promoting its article about Levine. The Bee editors refused, and subsequently published articles in jest of the situation. One is titled “Babylon Bee Writers Struggling To Come Up With New Material After Twitter Bans 1 Of Their 2 Jokes.”