Social media giant Twitter locked the congressional account of Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Ohio over the weekend for accurately referring to top Biden administration health official Richard “Rachel” Levine as a man.

Levine, the “transgender” Assistant Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary, was promoted to the rank of four-star admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC) last week, sparking various adoring headlines in the mainstream press about the “historic” nature of the promotion.

“The title of first female four-star officer gets taken by a man,” Banks lamented in a tweet, for which Twitter suspended him for allegedly violating its “Hateful Conduct Policy’s” prohibition on “targeted misgendering” of “transgender individuals.” That tweet has since been removed; another tweet by Banks expressing similar sentiments remains live:

“My tweet was a statement of fact,” Banks said Saturday. “Big Tech doesn’t have to agree with me, but they shouldn’t be able to cancel me. If they silence me, they will silence you. We can’t allow Big Tech to prevent us from telling the truth. When Republicans take back the House next year, we must restore honesty to our public forums and hold Big Tech accountable.”

Banks’ personal Twitter account remains active; he says he will be using it in place of his official one to communicate until further notice.

Several GOP lawmakers spoke out in defense of Banks and against Twitter’s actions, in the process noting the social media giant’s double standards:

 


Online communications giants like Twitter, Facebook, and Google have grown steadily more aggressive over the past several years in discriminating against conservative speech under the guise of policing “hate” and “misinformation,” leading many conservatives to advocate government intervention.

While many on the Right differ as to what form that intervention should take, the approach that arguably enjoys the most support is reforming Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, which exempts internet companies from liability for the content third parties publish on their websites, such as user posts.

Conservatives argue that while social media companies may have a legal right to decide what content to allow on their platforms, by exercising subjective preference for some views and claims over others they have forfeited their claim to what Section 230 gives them above and beyond that legal right. Some favor abolishing Section 230 entirely; others instead want to amend it to make immunity conditional on a more hands-off approach to political speech.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has argued that Big Tech’s current brazenness is partially due to judicial precedent that has misinterpreted Section 230, and that the provision was never intended to “protect any decision to edit or remove content” made by platforms.

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