Is Twitter kicking conservatives off its platform? Those who claim the social media giant is choosing sides in the online culture wars have new evidence for their assertions: the banning of the right-wing blogger Robert Stacy McCain.
McCain, a controversial figure who constantly inveighs against feminism, was removed for violating Twitter's terms of service, which prohibit harassment. But it's not clear which specific statement got him in trouble, or that he engaged in actual harassment.
What is clear is this: Twitter wants to look like it's doing something to appease left-wing critics of offensive speech. To that end, the company recently created a "Trust and Safety" council tasked with proposing new policies that will strike a balance between strengthening free speech and prohibiting hate speech. Unfortunately, the committee is not balanced between its two purported goals: It contains some 40 anti-harassment groups but not a single pro–free speech org. One of the council members is Anita Sarkeesian, an activist McCain had criticized; he was removed from Twitter shortly after she was appointed, timing that certainly looks suspicious.
Of course, Twitter has no obligation to extend free speech rights to its users or even to treat them fairly. Since it is a private company, the First Amendment doesn't apply to it. Conservative users can express their complaints and organize boycotts if they wish, but they should not call for government interference.