U.S. Army officer and combat veteran Danny Merritt is running for Congress and just regained his voice on Twitter after the platform suspended his account over a vague violation they later called a “mistake.”
Merritt, who announced his campaign in May, created a Twitter account for the first time to drive his grassroots campaign and gained 20,000 followers in the first 60 days, but Twitter banned him last week, accusing Merritt of “managing multiple accounts” though he’d only ever had one.
As a combat veteran and a co-founder of the multi-million dollar company, Nine Line Apparel, and owner of Georgia Land & Cattle, Merritt was able to reach out to his connections to help expose Twitter’s actions against him.
“Most people don’t have the resources I do,” Merritt told American Military News on Monday. “If I did not have Fox News, National Review and other people to reach out to then what?”
After National Review reached out to Twitter for comment and published a story on the issue, Twitter reversed its decision and reinstated Merritt’s account in 48 hours. He reclaimed it on Sunday.
“They said the mistake was on their end, but did not offer any further explanation,” Merritt said. “They turned me off and were going to leave me off.”
Before the ban, Merritt noticed his post reach was nearly nonexistent only when he would speak about a right-leaning issue like the Second Amendment. A post about a day at the lake with his family could amass hundreds of retweets, but a post sharing his concerns on the Second Amendment was nothing but “crickets,” in Merritt’s words.
“I have noticed over the years, and even more now, there are certain words or phrases that, if you use it, your reach will get crushed,” Merritt explained. “Any time I talked about the Second Amendment or the border wall, my reach would get absolutely hammered.”
“I noticed that on and on and on until [Twitter] finally kicked me out,” he said.
Social media platforms, namely Twitter and Facebook, have reached what Merritt describes as “unchecked power.” The average person has no voice, he says, and no recourse if Twitter shuts down their speech.
“I think it’s already gone too far,” Merritt said. “If we don’t figure out how to curb this type of behavior, specifically with Twitter and Facebook, then the big tech companies are going to have their hands on the scale of every single election moving forward, whether that be local politics or national politics.”
Merritt believes that what Twitter did to him — and does to many others, primarily with right-leaning political affiliations — is a major problem necessitating Congressional solutions.
“This is a huge security breach and threat to all Americans,” Merritt said. “Congress needs to do something in order to have more checks and balances on the big tech companies.”
“If they can shut down a Conservative GOP Congressional Candidate running a grassroots campaign this easily, then what else can they do?” Merritt said. “This is a really big deal. A watchful eye needs to be on Twitter right now.”
Merritt says he’s running a “true grassroots campaign” — one that relies on networking with voters through social media, phone calls, and knocking on doors. He doesn’t have the backing and funds of big companies and leverages exposure through social media.
Merritt is challenging longtime politician Rep. Buddy Carter, a fellow Republican, who has been in Congress since 2015. Carter had previously served as a representative in the Georgia House from 2004 to 2009 before then being elected as a state senator from 2009 to 2014.
Merritt joined the Army when he was 18 years old. He later commissioned as an officer in 2005 and went back on active duty with the 10th Mountain Division. He served as a Platoon Leader in 2008 in Iraq and earned a Bronze Star. Merritt was later assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, and deployed to Afghanistan. He left active duty in 2013 and is currently a Major in the U.S. Army Reserves.
He and his wife, Sarah, have four children.
Learn more about Merritt’s grassroots campaign by visiting his website.