Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai criticized Twitter Tuesday for what he deemed a “double standard” in how the platform treats conservative users.
“Now look, I love Twitter ... and anyone who knows me knows that I use it all the time. But let’s not kid ourselves, when it comes to a free and open Internet, Twitter is part of the problem,” Pai said in a speech on the FCC’s plans to repeal net neutrality. “The company has a viewpoint and uses that viewpoint to discriminate.”
“To say the least, the company appears to have a double standard when it comes to suspending or de-verifying conservative users’ accounts as opposed to those of liberal users,” Pai told a group at the R Street Institute, a think tank focused on free markets and limited government. “This conduct is many things, but it isn’t fighting for an open internet.”
Last week, Pai announced the FCC’s plans to repeal net neutrality regulations, which require internet providers to treat all content equally.
Critics of the decision ― including world leaders and even an FCC commissioner ― say that net neutrality is key to keeping the Internet open and accessible to all people and companies, no matter their size or financial ability.
Earlier this month, Twitter faced backlash over its verification of an account belonging to Jason Kessler, an organizer of the Charlottesville white supremacist rally. In the wake of the criticism, Twitter announced new guidelines and standards for its profile verification program ― or the decision process behind adding the blue check mark to user’s accounts ― clarifying that the check is meant to authenticate a user’s identity, not endorse their views. The platform then un-verified several high-profile far-right accounts, including Kessler’s and that of white supremacist Richard Spencer. The move sparked backlash from some far-right and conservative users.
In response to a request for comment on Pai’s remarks, a Twitter spokesperson directed HuffPost to the company’s recent tweet on net neutrality: