UPDATED 3/10, 11:53 a.m. ET: In a statement to Complex, a Twitter spokesperson further clarified that the Texas Attorney General is, in their words, “misusing the powers of his office to infringe on Twitter’s First Amendment rights” and attempting to silence free speech. Site policies, the spokesperson added, are enforced “impartially” for all users.
See the full statement below:
“A core part of Twitter’s mission is to protect freedom of expression and defend an Open Internet. We work every day to protect those interests for the people who use our service around the world. The First Amendment protects everyone’s right to free speech, including private businesses.
In this case, the Texas Attorney General is misusing the powers of his office to infringe on Twitter’s First Amendment rights and attempt to silence free speech. As we’ve repeatedly stated, and recent research underscores, we enforce the Twitter Rules judiciously and impartially across our service.
In the words of AG Paxton: “...[i]t is one thing to use the legal system to pursue public policy outcomes; but it is quite another to use prosecutorial weapons to intimidate critics, silence free speech, or chill the robust exchange of ideas.”
See original story below.
Twitter is suing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who earlier this year issued civil investigative demands to the site and other social media companies for what he called a “coordinated de-platforming” of single-term POTUS Donald J. Trump.
Those demands, notably, were announced to the public shortly after Twitter permanently suspended Trump from the platform over the risk of further incitement of violence in the wake of the fatal Capitol riot. Twitter’s federal lawsuit, detailed on Monday in an Associated Press report, alleges Paxton’s actions marked a retaliatory effort from the Texas conservative. The social media company is requesting that a judge declare their decision to permanently suspend Trump an example of a free speech-protected move.
Attorneys for Twitter argued in the California-filed suit that Paxton had “made clear” his intentions to “retaliate against” them in response to what they say were merely editorial decisions with which he did not agree.
In his statement announcing the investigative demands in January, Paxton—who also named Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple—lamented what he argued was a “large-scale silencing” of particular voices on social media. As reiterated in multiple reports this week, however, Twitter is a private company and does not have to act in a government-esque way when it comes to refraining from silencing figures.
Complex has reached out to a rep for Twitter and will update this post accordingly.
Per Twitter’s current hateful conduct policy, users may not promote violence against and/or directly attack or threaten other people. Furthermore, if an account is found to be sharing a violent threat, a permanent suspension will be instituted.