‘How is this not meddling?’ Twitter bans Tommy Robinson, Sargon of Akkad campaign accounts
Campaign accounts of two British candidates for the European Parliament, Tommy Robinson and Carl Benjamin, have been deleted by Twitter, prompting outcries of election meddling with less than a month before the vote.
Robinson and Benjamin – better known under his YouTube handle ‘Sargon of Akkad’ – are running in the May 23 election, which the UK will have to participate in due to the ongoing Brexit delays. Benjamin is a member of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), while Robinson announced his independent candidacy on Thursday.
🚨 TWITTER REMOVES Tommy Robinson’s CAMPAIGN Twitter account pic.twitter.com/iROTegUHWC— Nick Monroe (@nickmon1112) April 26, 2019
Both of them have had personal accounts purged from Twitter a while ago, but the accounts terminated on Friday were run by their campaign staff, and not them personally.
“We are investigating why, but strongly suspect this is a deliberate act of political censorship to deny a candidate his voice in a crucial election,” Benjamin’s campaign staffer Michael De La Broc said, adding the campaign will complain to the election authorities and maybe even seek restitution in court for “political interference by a foreign entity in our elections.”
UKIP has also declared the ban “election interference” and vowed to “get to the bottom” of the issue.
Official UKIP MEP Campaign account @CarlUKIP of which Carl Benjamin has no access to has been suspended from @Twitter.This is election interference, and UKIP will get to the bottom of this. @TwitterSupport— UKIP (@UKIP) April 26, 2019
Benjamin has come under attack by the media and establishment politicians, who have accused him of “racist” speech. The YouTuber maintains he fights for free speech and against political correctness.
Mainstream media have described Robinson as a “far-right activist” and accused him of “Islamophobia.” He was banned from Facebook and Instagram in February over alleged “hate speech.”
British Muslim organization Tell MAMA has claimed credit for reporting Robinson’s campaign account to Twitter, saying it’s using the candidacy to circumvent his personal ban.
.@Twitter: This is a violation of your platform. Given that UK politicians have put social media companies on notice, you need to act on this flagrant bypassing of your own terms & conditions: https://t.co/76VqREiW11Also cc: @DefenceHQ: Robinson using armed forces in video— TellMAMAUK (@TellMamaUK) April 25, 2019
The purge of MEP candidates comes just three days after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey went to the White House and met with US President Donald Trump to address complaints about “shadowbanning” and suspensions disproportionately targeting conservative voices on the social media platform.
While Twitter and other social media platforms have defended censorship on grounds that they are companies and not the government, last year a federal judge in the US ruled that Twitter is a “designated public forum,” and that Trump is not allowed to block people from his personal account on grounds of political speech.
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