Former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Newt Gingrich was locked out of his Twitter account for over a week after he published a tweet that criticized the Biden administration’s approach to the southern border and raised concern over immigrants crossing the border illegally who may be infected with COVID-19.
“If there is a covid surge in Texas the fault will not be Governor [Greg] Abbott’s common sense reforms. The greatest threat of a covid surge comes from Biden’s untested illegal immigrants pouring across the border. We have no way of knowing how many of them are bringing covid with them,” Gingrich tweeted on March 3.
Twitter promptly sent Gingrich a message explaining that his account was locked for “violating rules against hateful conduct.”
In an opinion piece published in The Washington Times, Gingrich defended his tweet saying that he was reacting to a recent story that said federal officials had no way of testing people who are picked up by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol — or forcing them to quarantine.
In order to unlock his account, Gingrich was required to delete his tweet or go through an appeals process. Gingrich assumed he received this message by accident.
“Thinking this must have been an error somehow generated by the company’s algorithm, we sent Twitter a message pointing out that my tweet didn’t “promote violence against, threaten, or harass” anyone. We asked that my account be released,” Gingrich said.
Twitter reiterated to Gingrich that his tweet had broken their rules of conduct.
“I fail to see how drawing attention to the public health dangers of massive illegal immigration during a pandemic can be censored. So, to unlock my account, I deleted the tweet this morning,” Gingrich wrote.
“There was no reason to censor my tweet or lock my account,” Gingrich continued. “Nothing in the flagged tweet “promotes violence against, threatens, or harasses” anyone. It is simply pointing out the fact that those entering the country illegally are not tested for COVID-19 and could be a health risk.”
In an open letter to Twitter officials, Gingrich posed the following questions:
Do the Twitter censors acknowledge that we are in a pandemic?
Do the Twitter censors acknowledge that testing is a key tool in fighting the pandemic?
Do the Twitter censors acknowledge that, unlike people entering the country legally, people who come into the United States illegally are not tested for COVID-19?
Do the Twitter censors acknowledge that, unlike U.S. citizens, people who come into the country illegally are unlikely to voluntarily get tested because they are trying to keep a low profile?
If so, how exactly do they justify censoring discussion of the threat to public health posed by people coming into the U.S. illegally without being tested?
Gingrich noted that the vast majority of those being silenced online are conservatives.
“This entire experience has made it even more clear to me that Twitter is only interested in censoring conservatives,” Gingrich said.
“I hope Twitter will stop its aggressive and biased censorship, and return to the spirit and ideals of free speech which allowed it to prosper in the first place.”
Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy
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