A California judge has ruled that Twitter’s policy of banning users “at any time, for any reason or for no reason” may constitute an “unconscionable contract”, and that a lawsuit against the company brought by self-described “white advocate” Jared Taylor may proceed on that basis.
The judge rejected Twitter’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit from Taylor, who was banned by the platform in December last year.
In particular, Twitter’s argument that it has a first amendment right to ban whoever it likes from its platform, for whatever reason was rejected.
The judge ruled that Twitter’s belief that it had a right to ban users “at any time, for any reason, or no reason” could be a legally unconscionable policy on the company’s part.
The judge also ruled that Twitter could be sued on the basis of misleading its users, due to the platform’s promise – frequently expressed, frequently violated – not to ban accounts on the basis of viewpoint or political affiliation.
“This ruling has massive implications for the platform going forward,” said Noah Peters, Jared Taylor’s lawyer. “this is the first time that a social media company’s argument that it can censor user speech has been rejected by a court.”
Taylor describes himself as a “race realist” and has in defended white separatism, claiming that races are “not equal”, but his attorney says this trial is not about his client’s particular views.
“Our lawsuit is not about whether Taylor is right or wrong,” Peters said in February. “It’s about whether Twitter and other technology companies have the right to ban individuals from using their services based on their perceived viewpoints and affiliations.”
Twitter is one of the worst offenders in big tech when it comes to censoring conservative accounts. Leading voices on the right, like Islam critic Tommy Robinson, have been banned from the platform merely for pointing out facts.
Twitter employees have also been caught on camera boasting about their actions to keep conservatives and Trump supporters off the platform.
One employee discussed shadowbanning political accounts, a practice that Twitter has continually denied using, while another claimed that accounts that expressed an interest in “god, guns, and America” were likely to be flagged as “bots.” Another employee, Mo Norai, explained that Twitter moderators regularly discriminated against accounts deemed to be pro-Trump.
Twitter’s double standards can be seen in the way it handles complaints of abuse against conservatives and individuals linked to conservatives. When the daughters of Islam critic Pamela Geller were bombarded with abuse earlier this year, Twitter did nothing. In fact, some of the abusive tweets remain on the site, undeleted.