'A Canadian writer filed a lawsuit against Twitter Inc. TWTR +1.55% on Monday, saying the social-media platform unfairly banned her because her criticism of transgender rights doesn’t line up with the company’s politics.
Meghan Murphy, a gender-politics blogger, alleges that Twitter violated unfair-competition law when it changed its hateful-conduct policy late last year. Under Twitter’s new policy, users can be banned for calling a transgender individual by their pre-transition names or referring to them with the wrong pronouns. The suit alleges that change conflicts with Twitter’s previous commitment to free speech.
The lawsuit, filed in state Superior Court in San Francisco, combines two hot-button issues: how Silicon Valley companies should moderate content on their sites, and what protections should be provided for transgender individuals.
In the offending tweets, Ms. Murphy wrote that transgender women are the same as men, as part of her argument that gender is determined at birth. Those views are viewed by some lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists as inciting hate speech against transgender people.
“Twitter claims its policies do not take into account political views,” said Noah Peters, Ms. Murphy’s lawyer. “They actually do practice viewpoint discrimination.”
Twitter said it believes Ms. Murphy’s claims are meritless, and it will defend itself against the suit.
Twitter has been criticized for the way it draws the line between free speech and harassment, as well as its ability to make these decisions consistently and fairly.
For years, Twitter executives shied away from moderation on their platform beyond extreme cases. Some early executives at the company called Twitter “the free speech wing of the free speech party,” brandishing their commitment to a marketplace of ideas where more speech could counter hate speech.'
Read more: Writer Sues Twitter Over Ban for Criticizing Transgender People
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