In a significant act of political censorship, Twitter blocked the account of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) on Thursday, rendering it unable to post content, reply to messages or post. Indeed, such blocking deactivates an account.
The lockdown was imposed on Thursday morning Australian time. A notification sent to the SEP’s account said he had violated unspecified rules and was locked for 12 hours. The message contained a link to Twitter’s general guidelines for users. There was no way to appeal the decision.
Simultaneously, a video previously posted on the SEP account was hidden by the Twitter administration. At the location of the video, a statement from Twitter read, “This tweet violated the Twitter rules.”
The video in question is 59 seconds long and draws attention to official attacks on four people who have been singled out for their free speech activities. The video was shared as part of the SEP’s campaign in defense of Dr David Berger, an Australian GP who was targeted for opposing the official ‘laissez-faire’ program of mass infection by the COVID.
The video can be viewed on the SEP’s Instagram and Facebook accounts. It can also be viewed below.
After the 12-hour ban passed on Thursday evening Australian time, the SEP account remained locked. A post from Twitter’s administrators said the sanction was imposed for “violating our rules against posting or sharing intimate media produced/distributed privately by anyone without their express consent.”
In order for the account to be unblocked, the message states that the SEP “must delete” the video. The SEP administrators filed an appeal against this decree, which had not received a response at the time of publication. The SEP’s Twitter account remains locked.
The reasons given to justify the censorship are absurd and bizarre.
None of the visual content in the video is “intimate”. All elements are in the public domain, with common license terms, or have been provided directly to the World Socialist Web Site and published there previously.
Three of the four people mentioned and depicted in the video collaborated with the World Socialist Web Site, in particular by providing their images. The fourth, Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, is currently incarcerated in the maximum security prison in Belmarsh, Britain, without regular internet access.
In other words, it is obvious that if the content of the video was the subject of a complaint, it was not made by one of the people featured. The allegation of “intimate” content is patently false. Of note, the block was imposed minutes after the video was posted on Thursday morning, indicating the possibility of a quickly coordinated campaign to remove the content.
It is striking that the video that was censored was itself about the censorship of workers and public figures who took a stand against the power in place. It is useful to briefly recall who they are:
* The WSWS reported earlier this month that Dr David Berger had been censored by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). The official body demanded that he undergo special ‘education’ or risk being disbarred and accused him of ‘undermining’ public health messaging.
Berger’s “crime” was to condemn the “laisser-faire” policy of all Australian governments of letting the virus spread endlessly. He has consistently advocated the science-based measures needed to eliminate transmission, which are rejected by authorities because they may impact corporate interests.
The attack on Berger comes amid a new global wave of the virus, including in Australia. State and federal governments, both Labor and Liberal, have rejected any measure to combat the wave, in conditions where nearly 9,000 people have died this year alone and more than eight million of the 25 million Australians have been infected.
Berger’s plight was completely obscured by the corporate media.
* Lisa Diaz is a British worker who has organized a series of powerful parent strikes, opposing the forced reopening of schools amid rampant COVID transmission. The in-person schooling policy serves no purpose other than to ensure that parents are present at their place of work so that all business and profit-making activities can continue regardless of the consequences.
In late 2021, Diaz was threatened with malicious prosecution by local authorities because she refused to put her children at risk at a COVID-infested school. His principled campaign has won the support of medical experts, teachers, parents and other workers around the world.
* David O’Sullivan is a London bus driver who was persecuted and fired for campaigning against the mass infection of transport workers, in conditions where dozens of his colleagues had died of the virus. He acted independently of the unions, which enforced dangerous policies during the pandemic, and won the respect of transport workers around the world.
O’Sullivan, like Diaz, has given repeated interviews to the WSWS and has been a featured speaker at international online events he has hosted.
* Julian Assange is the most famous political prisoner in the world. He is incarcerated in Britain and faces extradition to the United States, which has issued 17 Espionage Act charges against him for publishing truthful documents that revealed war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. If shipped to his American persecutors, Assange faces 175 years in prison.
The decade-long campaign against Assange, involving multiple governments including the US, Britain and Australia, is the culmination of a broader effort by ruling elites to suppress opposition to the war and set a precedent for persecution aimed at emerging struggles of the working class. Assange has been obsessively pursued by intelligence agencies and their creatures, including on social media, for at least 12 years.
In other words, the people featured in the video have all fought for the social and democratic rights of working people, in opposition to deadly pandemic policies, militarism and war. In doing so, they have drawn the ire of powerful political forces.
The ban decreed by Twitter therefore raises obvious questions. If the video was the subject of a complaint, why did the social media giant immediately block the SEP’s entire account, without any recourse, for 12 hours? Such action has never been taken since the account was created in 2010.
Why, more than 24 hours after the ban, has it not been rescinded? A cursory examination of its contents by any objective human reviewer would conclude that claims that the video contains “intimate media” are nonsense.
A tweet from SEP Australia National Secretary Cheryl Crisp, asking for an explanation of the ban and its immediate reversal, was posted to her personal account at 4.47pm (AEDT) on Thursday. She tagged Twitter Support, the service responsible for handling such questions. Currently, the message has received more than 370 likesand over 165 retweets. Twitter’s support service has not acknowledged or responded to this message.
This situation cannot be tolerated. It sets a precedent for attacks on other Twitter pages and posts that oppose the laissez-faire agenda, war, and other attacks on people’s rights. It threatens a broader crackdown on any left-wing political alternative advanced on Twitter.
We call on all WSWS readers and advocates for democratic rights to share this article on Twitter, with a caption above directed to @TwitterSupport, demanding an immediate undoing of the block and a full explanation of why it was imposed. Share the censored video on other social media platforms and alert your friends, family and co-workers about this attack!
(Article published in English on July 22, 2022)