Major Republican committees and President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign are pulling all advertising money from Twitter as of Thursday morning after the platform locked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) campaign account for violating the platform’s rules.
Trump’s campaign, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) are promising to not spend any money on future Twitter campaign ads. Richard Waters, the chief of staff of the Republican National Committee (RNC), said in a tweet that his organization, along with the Trump campaign, will not advertise on Twitter until “they address this disgusting bias.”
I have directed the @nrcc to immediately halt all spending with @Twitter until they correct their inexcusable targeting of @Team_Mitch. We will stand firmly with our friends against anti-conservative bias. https://t.co/j2dhIkmWvb— Parker Hamilton Poling (@parkerpoling) August 8, 2019
These moves were all in reaction to McConnell’s campaign being locked out of its Twitter account on Wednesday. The @Team_Mitch account posted a video that included clips of protesters making violent threats against McConnell, who is running for reelection next year. A Twitter spokesperson told The Verge that the video violated their “violent threats policy” and the company requested that the post be removed in order for the campaign to continue using the account.
The episode is the latest escalation in the fight over alleged “conservative bias” from platform-owning tech companies, a concern Republicans have raised repeatedly since Trump took office. After McConnell’s account was locked, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted that he would “not spend a single penny” on Twitter advertising until it was reinstated. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who has also stirred up controversy over these bias allegations, reprimanded Twitter for its actions against McConnell, tweeting Thursday, “Big Tech is now censoring Republicans for their ‘safety’? Yeah, right.”
Hawley proposed legislation in June that would revoke platforms’ largest legal liability shield if they did not agree to submit quarterly audits ensuring that they are moderating content neutrally. That’s despite the fact that the law in question, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, does not require social media companies to be politically neutral.
As of Thursday afternoon, the account’s offending video appears to be removed, but there have been no new tweets since August 6th.
Updated 7/8/19 at 3:11 p.m. EST: Updated to include a statement from Twitter.