Twitter has come under fire from The Satanic Temple, a nontheistic religious group, after the social network suspended the accounts of the organization and its founder, Lucien Greaves.
The Satanic Temple has filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination accusing Twitter of selectively targeting the group over its religious beliefs, the organization announced Wednesday.
The complaint stems from an incident that happened earlier this year when actor Corey Feldman retweeted a Twitter user who called for burning down The Satanic Temple’s headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts, quickly causing her suggestion to spread widely. The group’s founder subsequently reported the threat to Twitter, but the company ultimately responded by briefly suspending Mr. Greaves’ account and limiting the temple’s ability to tweet before restoring both accounts days later, according to the complaint.
While The Satanic Temple and Mr. Greaves currently maintain active Twitter accounts, the complaint argues that Twitter has continued to discriminate against them by refusing to brand either with the blue “verified” check marks reserved for users with accounts of public interest.
“The failure of Twitter to verify both accounts, which both clearly meet Twitter’s documented standards for verification, compounded by the suspension of the accounts clearly demonstrates a pattern of hostile discriminatory behavior engaged in by Twitter against The Satanic Temple,” Mr. Greaves said in a statement. “It reveals the biased human agency behind a facade of neutral and evenly enforced standards.”
Marc Randazza, an attorney who filed the complaint on behalf of the group, concurred.
“Satanists are equal to any other religious adherents under the law and deserve to be treated equally,” Mr. Randazza said in a statement. “If Twitter disagrees, then it should be prepared to explain why its ‘Trust and Safety Council’ believes that it should favor one religion over another – consistent with the Civil Rights laws.”
Twitter declined to comment on the complaint when reached by The Washington Times.
Founded by Mr. Greaves in 2012, The Satanic Temple’s mission it to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will,” its website states.
“We understand the Satanic figure as a symbol of man’s inherent nature, representative of the eternal rebel, enlightened inquiry and personal freedom rather than a supernatural deity or being. It is our mission to facilitate communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty,” according to the website of the temple’s Detroit chapter.
Twitter began branding certain accounts with blue check marks in 2009, and in 2016 it started accepting applications from users seeking verification.
“An account may be verified if it is determined to be an account of public interest,” Twitter explains on its website. “Typically this includes accounts maintained by users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business and other key interest areas.”
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination is “actively investigating” The Satanic Temple’s complaint, Boston Magazine reported.
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