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GOP Representatives press Twitter to end censorship of conservatives

December 17, 2021

Russ Fulcher
Serving on the House Republican Big Tech, Censorship and Data Task Force, Congressman Russ Fulcher joined task force Leader McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R-NY), and his task force colleagues in a letter to Twitter Chief Executive Officer Parag Agrawal pressing him to clarify how he will end censorship of conservatives, uphold the First Amendment, and ensure the company does not interfere in future elections.

Additional signers of the Twitter letter are Republican Representatives Buddy Carter, Georgia, Bob Latta, Ohio, Gus Bilirakis, Florida, Dan Bishop, North Carolina, Michael Cloud, Texas, Jake LaTurner, Kansas, Ben Cline, Virginia, Bill Huizenga, Michigan, Madison Cawthorn, North Carolina, and Tim Walberg, Michigan.

"The new CEO of Twitter, Parag Agrawal, assumed the position on November 29, 2021. Many have expressed concern over his behavior as CEO, particularly his comment made in an interview last year, that Twitter should, 'focus less on thinking about free speech,'" Fulcher wrote in a press release issued today.

In the letter, members wrote, “As you know, Twitter enjoys liability protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Unfortunately, Twitter has abused these privileges time and again. Despite your past comments supporting censorship, we remain hopeful that your time leading Twitter will be spent working to uphold the ideals that made your platform’s success possible and that have made our country the most prosperous in the world.”

Notables permanently banned by Twitter include musician and actress Courtney Love, Norwegian fazr-right terrorist Anders Breeivik, alt-right blogger Charles C. Johnson, Subway spokesman Jared Fogle, acquitted killer George Zimmerman and former United States President Donald J. Trump.

Blaming Twitter of censoring conservative voices and causes, one of the questions specifically asked of Agrawal was, "In light of how Twitter influenced the 2020 presidential election, what changes to your policies do you intend to make to ensure Twitter remains neutral in future elections?"

During his presidency, Trump, as @realDonaldTrump, tweeted more than 25,000 times, many of them personal insults, many espousing racism, violence and far-right extremist views, many in violation of Twitter policies but overlooked due to his status as president.

He used the platform in September, 2017, to make threats to destroy North Korea and individual North Korean officials, including "Little Rocket Man" Kim Jong-un, in January, 2020, he Tweeted "if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets," it could expect that "52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago) ... important to Iran & the Iranian culture" would be "HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD."

He also tweeted or retweeted thousands of false or misleading statements, prompting Twitter in May, 2020, to begin flagging such posts.

Parag Agrawal
In November 2020, Twitter clarified that, "while it may choose to merely flag the offensive tweets of 'current world leaders and candidates for office,' when those people leave office and become 'private citizens' again, they will be treated like everyone else and their accounts can be suspended."

On January 7, 2021, Twitter temporarily locked Trump's  account after multiple controversies, including his use of the platform to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election and to allegedly incite the 2021 United States Capitol attack.

On Friday, January 8, 2021, Twitter Inc. permanently suspended Trump's account after the president tweeted, “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” and “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

"In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action," they wrote. "Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open.

"Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks. After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service."

“It’s not Mr. Agrawal’s decision to ignore free speech rights guaranteed for each and every American — these are not up for debate," Fulcher wrote in his release. "Mr. Agrawal must choose between honoring every American’s right to free speech on his platform or forfeiting Twitter’s liability protections under Section 230 of the CDA. Twitter cannot continue to censor conservative speech while hiding behind Section 230. Mr. Agrawal simply cannot have it both ways.”

The right to free speech is enunciated in the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, which established the form of a new nation's government effective March 4, 1789.

The first ten amendments to the constitution were ratified December 15, 1791. Like the constitution, they apply not to individuals or entities under its jurisdiction, but serve as the promise of our government to those whom representatives of that government serve.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances," the first amendment reads, italics added.

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