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Twitter bans Christian magazine over comment on President Biden's transgender nominee

by Tola Mbakwe

Twitter temporarily suspended a US Christian magazine from its platform after it tweeted about the Biden's administration nominee for Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr Rachel Levine.

If Dr Levine is confirmed, she will become the United States' first openly transgender federal official.

On 19th January, The Daily Citizen, which is a publication of the global Christian ministry Focus on the Family, tweeted a quote from one of its articles.

It read: "On Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden announced that he had chosen Dr. Rachel Levine to serve as Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of HHS. Dr. Levine is a transgender woman, that is a man who believes he is a woman".

The tweet also gave a link to the article.

The Daily Citizen said it was subsequently locked out of its Twitter's account due to a violation of the social media platform "hateful conduct" rules.

The magazine was told that it will not gain access to its account until it deletes the tweet. However, Twitter has already deleted the tweet and replaced it with a message that says "tweet is no longer available because it violated the Twitter Rules."

In an email to The Daily Citizen, Twitter wrote, “Hi The Daily Citizen, your account, @FocusCitizen has been locked for violating the Twitter Rules. Specifically for: Violating our rules against hateful conduct. You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”

“Please note that repeated violations may lead to a permanent suspension of your account,” the email warned. “Proceed to Twitter now to fix the issue with your account.”

 To “fix the issue”, Twitter prompts The Daily Citizen to “Remove [the] tweet.” The only other option given to The Daily Citizen was to appeal the decision.”

The Daily Citizen appealed the decision and wrote a letter defending its tweet.

“The tweet pointed to an article at our news outlet, The Daily Citizen, explaining the appointment and Dr. Levine’s controversial history in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic as Pennsylvania’s Health Secretary,” The Daily Citizen wrote.  

“Numerous outlets reported on Levine’ appointment – including President Biden’s White House – noting Dr. Levin’s transgender identification. Many of the articles and tweets explained that Dr. Levin was born male, believed he is really a woman, had surgery and opposite-sex hormones, and now identifies as a woman.

“Our tweet does not ‘promote violence against, threaten, or harass Dr. Levin.

“Yet, we are deeply puzzled about how it was misconstrued to do so. Nowhere in our tweet or article did we encourage such action. As a Christian organization, we would never do so. We simply explained to our readers the appointment and defined what transgender women are – those born male who believe they are a woman, regardless of whether they have had opposite-sex hormones or surgeries.

“We believe Twitter’s blocking of this tweet and lockdown of our account discriminates against Focus on the Family’s The Daily Citizen on the basis of our religious affiliation.

The Daily Citizen contests Twitter’s characterization of our message and appeals this decision.”

Following the appeal, Twitter stuck to its decision, saying: “Our support team has determined that a violation did take place, and therefore we will not overturn our decision…

“In order to restore account functionality, you can resolve the violations by logging into your account and completing the on-screen instructions.”

This is not the first time The Daily Citizen has been censored on social media

The magazine said last October, Facebook censored one of its articles about mask wearing.  

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