Twitter Suspends Account of Judicial Watch's Fitton

Twitter Suspends Account of Judicial Watch's Fitton
President of Judicial Watch Tom Fitton. (York Du/NTD)
Janita Kan

President of Judicial Watch Tom Fitton said Twitter had suspended his account for at least seven days for allegedly violating the platform's rules.

Fitton said he was locked out of his account for posting "#Hydroxychloroquine is a safe drug," a topic he had been posting about since September. He said that at that time, Twitter "specifically found that it was not in [violation] of its rules" but has now decided to take action against the account.

"I have 'appealed' but we all know, given this background, that this is not about HCQ, it is about finding a pretext to silence another leading conservative voice," Fitton said in a statement on Parler.

Twitter's ban comes as big tech companies ramp up their policing of statements and comments from President Donald Trump, conservatives, and other voices they claim may cause harm.

The social media company on Jan. 8 permanently removed Trump’s account on its platform and justified its censorship by saying that the president had violated its “Glorification of Violence Policy” after he posted a message urging protesters to remain peaceful and leave the Capitol. The Trump campaign's Twitter account has also been removed.

Other accounts from leading conservatives such as attorney Sidney Powell and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn were also suspended by the tech giant. Meanwhile, some conservative-leaning groups and personalities reported significant loss of followers in recent days.

"Just to add to the chorus, I’ve lost about 5,000 followers. It’s clear that Twitter is wiping out conservative accounts. That’s why your follower counts are going down. This is the biggest purge we’ve seen, and not the last," conservative writer and speaker Matt Walsh said on Twitter.
Similarly, conservative group PragerU said they lost over 14,000 followers in the last few days.
Twitter told Daily Caller in a statement that the suspension of accounts were made in line with their Coordinated Harmful Activity policy, which was updated this month.

“We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm, and given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behavior in the coming days, we will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content,” the statement said.

Twitter's latest round of content policing started after pockets of civil unrest and acts of violence marred otherwise peaceful protests at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. A group of rioters and a minority of protesters waving American and Trump flags illegally stormed the Capitol building as lawmakers were counting electoral votes in a joint session of Congress. Clashes on the day left five people dead and dozens of police officers injured.

Twitter's enforcement actions have sparked an exodus of users from the platform. A number of conservative media figures have left Twitter in recent days, such as Greg Gutfeld, Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, and Mark Levin.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also expressed concern over Twitter’s decision to suspend Trump from social media, saying that it could set a precedent for big tech companies to silence voices.
“We understand the desire to permanently suspend him now, but it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions— especially when political realities make those decisions easier,” the ACLU statement read.

Apple, Google, and Amazon have also garnered widespread scrutiny for banning the social media network Parler from their services.

Parler, which has attracted a large following of classical liberal and conservative-leaning users, has been targeted by Silicon Valley for lacking a system to “implement robust moderation for egregious content.”

Apple said in a statement to media outlets on Jan. 9 that they believe Parler had “not taken adequate measures to address” the proliferation of “threats of violence and illegal activity.”

Meanwhile, Amazon told Parler that they would be shutting Parler’s servers at midnight Jan. 10 over what it says is the platform’s alleged lax approach to violent content posted by its users. Parler found and CEO John Matze has disputed the claims by the companies.

Matze said these companies are using recent events to “go after Parler,” even though “there is no evidence Parler was used to coordinate the events.”

“Parler has no groups-style feature, and Facebook was the number one tool for coordinating meetups for that event,” Matze told The Epoch Times in an email.

He said he believes the companies are all acting in bad faith and that his company is prepared to take legal action over their decision to ban him.

Unbalanced policing of user content and certain political views has raised concerns over First Amendment rights and the lack of checks and balances on decisions made by big tech companies. Discussions over limiting or eliminating liability protections under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act for tech companies that have engaged in censoring or political conduct have been heavily discussed in the past year.

Trump and his administration had repeatedly called on Congress to limit or amend Section 230. But tech advocacy groups have pushed back against such a move.