UPDATE: Twitter has halted its censorship of content from The Epoch Times following a flood of public criticism.Twitter on July 28 imposed a blockade on all content from The Epoch Times without explanation, raising further concerns about freedom of speech on the platform and drawing ire from three U.S. senators.
The platform enforced a warning on all links from The Epoch Times. A click on a link directs users to a page titled “Warning: this link may be unsafe,” which prompts users to return to the previous page.
Twitter's warning page allows users to proceed to the Epoch Times link if they click on the word “continue” at the very bottom of the page.
The platform has not responded to multiple requests from The Epoch Times for clarification.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), vice chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who serves on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who serves on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, decried the move as an act of censorship.
Johnson described Twitter’s action as “alarming.”
Scott asked Twitter in a July 29 tweet "where’s the respect for free speech and freedom of press, Twitter."
"We all remember your biased censorship of [The New York Post] and how that ended for you," Scott said.
Human Trafficking Interview CensoredAmong the first to be affected by Twitter’s blockade was Eliza Bleu, a human trafficking survivor. In an interview that premiered at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Bleu shared about how abusers groomed her by preying on her vulnerabilities.
Bleu tried to repost the link after watching the interview, and to her surprise and dismay, found that she “couldn't even click on the link.”
“I'm pretty disheartened that the interview link was labeled as unsafe, because it's not unsafe,” she told The Epoch Times.
“By watching the interview, anyone can tell it's pretty educational,” she said. “I wasn't talking about anything that wasn't factual. I was just really just trying to educate, raise awareness, and bring attention to the issue.”
She added that the link seemed to be accessible when the interview first aired but became blocked sometime afterward.
Twitter Targets American Media, Not Chinese State MediaThe Epoch Times was founded in 2000 by Chinese Americans who fled communist China and sought to create an independent media outlet to bring uncensored and truthful information to the world.
While operating outside of China, the media outlet has remained a consistent target of attacks from the Chinese regime over the past two decades.
Major Chinese state media, by contrast, remain accessible on the platform as of press time.
Jeffrey Tucker, founder of the Brownstone Institute think tank and a contributor for The Epoch Times, also expressed his shock.