After the revelation that his own account was being shadowbanned by Twitter, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has filed a complaint against Twitter with the Federal Election Commission.
Earlier this week, Rep. Gaetz argued that by limiting his social media visibility, Twitter may have actually illegally donated to the campaigns of his opponents by prejudicing against his content. Big League Politics reported earlier this week that several prominent conservative accounts were being shadowbanned by Twitter, including Rep. Gaetz. VICE News ran their own investigation, and found that only conservative users were being subjected to the Twitter search limit.
In a statement released Thursday on Twitter’s company blog, executives from the social media giant admit they do, in fact, shadowban certain accounts.
In the blog post written by the company’s legal, policy, trust and safety lead, Vijaya Gadde and Kayvon Beykpour, their product lead, they state: “You are always able to see the tweets from accounts you follow (although you may have to do more work to find them, like go directly to their profile).”
In other words, Twitter absolutely shadowbans.
On Friday, Rep. Gaetz was featured on Tucker Carlson to make the announcement that an official complaint had been filed with the Federal Election Commission. During the interview Rep. Gaetz said he knows for certain that Twitter’s shadowbanning of only conservative accounts gives his, and other conservative opponents the upper-hand.
“Well, I’m certain that there were only four members of Congress who had their voices suppressed on Twitter, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows and Devin Nunez. So, that’d be one hell of a coincidence. My suspicion is that if people were effectively communicating the conservative message, they got caught in Twitter’s ‘troll trap’. The reason I think that is illegal is because it gives advantages to our political opponents. It gives them access to the platform that we don’t have. If Twitter was a billboard company and they gave Democrats access to their billboards and not Republicans, that would be illegal corporate donation to the campaigns of Democrats. Here, instead of the billboard, its the auto-fill in function as a part of Twitter’s search feature that wasn’t available to me, Devin Nunez, Mark Meadows or Jim Jordan, and it’s available to Democrats.”
Tucker then asks Gaetz, “Do you believe that the FEC can remedy this?”
“They absolutely can institute fines, just like they can institute fines and punishment against any company that illegally makes a corporate donation to a political campaign. Here, the corporate donation is allowing Democrats and the people running against me specifically, to have access to elements of the search feature that I didn’t have access to. And why Tucker? Why? Twitter has said in their official response that it was my behavior that resulted in this. I don’t know what behavior that is, so are we really going to trust tech companies to be able to just decide with no transparency what behavior limits someone’s ability to amplify their message? That sounds like the “Tech-Tyranny” series you did a couple months ago is coming to life before our very eyes,” Rep. Matt Gaetz replies.
Tucker asks Rep. Matt Gaetz why Congress isn’t doing anything to break up the tech monopolies of Google, Facebook and Twitter and Gaetz admits that most members of Congress just don’t fully grasp the gravity of the censorship issue.
Gaetz replies, “Well, frankly, too many members of Congress just don’t understand the gravity of the issue, but now we’re the ones who have the targets drawn on our foreheads, so I think you’ll see more engagement from the Congress coming forward. A reasonable libertarian might ask, ‘Why shouldn’t I just leave Twitter–Why should I have excessive government regulation?’, and it’s important to recognize, Twitter and other social media companies use the federal government to get rid of lawsuits that they don’t want to have to defend against and they use a provision that requires them to hold themselves out as a neutral public forum. So Twitter and Facebook can’t say on one hand, ‘We’re neutral and thus, shouldn’t have to respond to lawsuits’, and then on the other hand, tell me and other outspoken conservatives that our behavior results in suppression on their platform. They can’t have it both ways.”
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