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In a widely reported interview last week, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey declared that his company could no longer “afford to take a neutral stance anymore” when it comes to hot button social and political issues. Pressed on why his site seems to laser focus on conservatives while largely ignoring voices on the Left — like radical racist and anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan — Dorsey cited the case of Canadian progressive feminist Megan Murphy, whom his company recently banned after a series of tweets arguing that transwomen are not women.
On Monday, Murphy filed a lawsuit against Dorsey’s company for banning her from the platform.
“Men are not women,” Murphy tweeted before being permanently banned from Twitter in November. “How are transwomen not men? What is the difference between men and transwomen?” When Murphy referred to a transgender activist using biologically correct pronouns, her account was permanently locked in November.
The company’s rationale for banning Murphy: She had allegedly violated its “hateful-conduct” rules, which “prohibit targeting individuals with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category” (full text of policy below). As National Review’s Mairead McArdle points out, Twitter added a new wrinkle to its rules in late October, which they then retroactively applied to some of Murphy’s past posts: “targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals”; in other words, calling a biological male who identifies as female a “he” or using transgender individuals’ birth names rather than their new names.
After her account was initially locked, Murphy deleted her past tweets pushing back on the notion that men can become women. But her account was locked again after she decried the rules as “bullsh**” and the “dogma” behind them “insane.” A few days later, Murphy was permanently banned after she referred to transgender activist Jonathan Yaniv, a biological male who identifies as a female, using a male pronoun.
In a press release Monday, Murphy’s legal team explains that she’s “fighting back against silencing and censorship in the gender identity debate” and provides more details on the final incident that prompted her permanent ban:
Meghan Murphy is an independent Canadian feminist writer and journalist. She is the founder editor and publisher of Feminist Current, Canada’s leading feminist website. Meghan is a well-known and well-respected writer on feminist issues, and spent her career fighting violence against women. Her work has appeared in numerous publications across the globe and she and holds an M.A. in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies from Simon Fraser University.
Now, she is being silenced.
On November 23, 2018, Twitter permanently suspended her account. The reason? She referred to a trans-identified male (Jonathan Yaniv) using a male pronoun—even though this individual continues to identify himself using his male name on multiple social media platforms—including on Twitter, as well as in the Google review Murphy shared as part of her tweet. Yaniv had previously filed multiple well-publicized human rights complaints against female estheticians who refused to give him a Brazilian bikini wax. Yaniv publicly bragged that he was personally responsible for having Murphy banned from Twitter.
On Monday, Murphy filed the lawsuit in state court in San Francisco County, where Twitter’s headquarters is located. As the press release explains, her suit accuses Twitter of false advertising as well as “secretive,” deliberately deceptive practices regarding user policy:
Twitter grew to prominence by advertising itself as “the free speech wing of the free speech party.” It repeatedly promised its users in its Terms of Service and elsewhere that it would not censor their speech. Its Terms of Service state that any changes “Will not be retroactive,” and that it will provide 30 days’ notice to users of any changes. But Twitter inserted a highly controversial new policy against “misgendering or deadnaming” transgender individuals without providing notice to anyone—a clear violation of its promises to users. Twitter’s roll-out of the policy was so secretive that the exact date that the new policy was added has never been confirmed, by Twitter or anyone else.
Murphy’s team ends the release by presenting her case as an attempt to fight for all those voices who have been “silenced by social media censorship.”
“The big tech giants are counting on users to quietly accept their bans and not stand up for their rights. But Murphy is fighting back against the attempts of powerful social media conglomerates to silence her and millions of others. She has filed a lawsuit on behalf of everyone who has had their voices silenced by social media censorship,” the release reads, linking to a site where supporters can donate.