This week a liberal feminist blogger based in Canada filed suit against Twitter after she was silenced on the platform for expressing opinions critical of transgenderism. Meghan Murphy, the founder of Feminist Current, is suing the tech giant for breach of contract and criticized Twitter for hiding behind Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Murphy was originally locked out of her Twitter account for making statements like “Men aren’t women” and then eventually was banned from the platform for what Twitter ruled to be a violation of its revamped hateful conduct standards. In a post this week, Murphy lambasted Twitter for banning “women who speak the truth about material reality and challenge the idea that individuals can change sex through self-declaration.”
One of Murphy’s lawyers, Adam Candeub, told CNET, “The policy is arbitrary and it conflicts with Twitter's promise to have an open and free platform for communication.”
While the lawsuit is focusing on Twitter’s failure to treat its users fairly, particularly in its notification about new rules, Murphy and her team have also highlighted issues with the giant’s use of Section 230.
In her post, Murphy said, “They hide behind Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in order to defend their allowance of illegal activities, violent threats, and pornography on the platform, but then shut down and silence women who share opinions and arguments they don't like, or attempt to hold predatory men to account.”
In an interview with PJ Media, NRB Vice President of Communications James A. Smith, Sr., welcomed this attention to the “indisputable” viewpoint discrimination of Silicon Valley. He, too, drew attention to growing calls for Section 230 review and said, "Unfortunately, there seems to be no end to Twitter’s willingness to suppress ideas and opinions that run counter to its corporate values."
NRB has long collected evidence of viewpoint censorship on social media platforms and repeatedly called on tech companies to craft a robust industry free speech charter. Following their failure to make measurable progress to counter this alarming problem, NRB sent letters to key congressional leaders last month urging a careful review of the “Good Samaritan” protections of Section 230.
While still hoping for an industry solution and rejecting any heavy-handed action like a Fairness Doctrine for the internet, NRB’s letter suggested “it is time for Congress to explore further what may be the costs and benefits of removing or conditionally suspending Section 230’s extra layer of government-granted content moderation protection for ubiquitous platforms suspected of acting in bad faith.”
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: February 15, 2019