Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf issued a statement Friday in which he said Twitter’s censorship practices pose a threat to U.S. national security.
Wolf tweeted, “Twitter’s censoring of factual information poses a threat to national security. It should not be up to corporate bureaucrats to determine what security information the American public receives.”
Twitter’s censoring of factual information poses a threat to national security.
— Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (@DHS_Wolf) October 30, 2020
Wolf’s tweet followed an incident earlier this week in which U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner Mark Morgan saw his Twitter account temporarily suspended after he tweeted about wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border. After 20 hours, Twitter reversed the suspension against Morgan’s account.
The suspension action against Morgan’s account also took place on the same day Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai were called to testify before the U.S. Senate regarding the censorship of content on their platforms.
Wolf’s tweet included a screenshot of a letter he addressed to Dorsey, in which Wolf raised issue with Twitter suspending Morgan’s account.
“There was no reason to remove Mr. Morgan’s tweet from your platform, other than ideological disagreement with the speaker,” Wolf wrote. “Such censorship is disturbing.”
Wolf went on to say Twitter’s actions also endanger national security.
“It is dangerous and damaging when any publisher arbitrarily and unfoundedly decides, as it did here, that the facts and policies of a particular Presidential Administration constitute ‘violence’—in order to censor them,” Wolf said. “And in the case of Twitter, this can cut off an essential mode of communication between U.S. Government officials and the public. In doing so, Twitter is sabotaging public discourse regarding important national and homeland security issues.”
Wolf’s full statement to Dorsey reads:
Dear Mr. Dorsey:
I write to you about Twitter’s recent censorship of Mark Morgan, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Not only was Twitter’s act of censorship unjustified—the tweet is supported by data—it is disturbing. As the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other Federal agencies continue to rely on Twitter to share important information with the U.S. public, your censorship poses a threat to our security.
Hours after you concluded testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 28, 2020, Twitter suspended Mr. Morgan for tweeting: “CBP & U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continue to build new wall every day. Every mile helps us stop gang members, murderers, sexual predators, and drugs from entering our country. It’s a fact, walls work.” Twitter’s moderators, apparently triggered by the tweet, emailed Mr. Morgan to say, “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.” The Acting Commissioner’s tweet did none of these things. Read it. Watch the video.
The fact that the tweet was removed and the account locked is startling. It is hard to understand how anyone believed Mr. Morgan’s tweet promoted violence, threats or harassment. Especially considering that the facts about the border wall system support the tweet. Whether you know it or not, CBP guards the front line of the American homeland. CBP repels and arrests thousands of violent criminal gang members each year. CBP rescues young girls who are forced into cross-border sex trafficking. CBP intercepts dangerous drugs and contraband, including enough of the opioid fentanyl to kill every man, woman, and child in the United States several times over. CBP fulfills the United States’ most obvious and essential law enforcement and national security responsibility to the people of our country. Your company may choose to be ignorant of these facts, but it is no less censorship when you choose to suppress them.
There was no reason to remove Mr. Morgan’s tweet from your platform, other than ideological disagreement with the speaker. Such censorship is disturbing. Twitter’s conduct censoring U.S. government officials also endangers the national security. It is dangerous and damaging when any publisher arbitrarily and unfoundedly decides, as it did here, that the facts and policies of a particular Presidential Administration constitute “violence”—in order to censor them. And in the case of Twitter, this can cut off an essential mode of communication between U.S. Government officials and the public. In doing so, Twitter is sabotaging public discourse regarding important national and homeland security issues.
Further, it is clear that Twitter’s gross censorship was intentional, not accidental. Twitter notified CBP that it had censored Mr. Morgan’s message and locked his account. In response, CBP communicated with Twitter’s office of government affairs, and also appealed Twitter’s censorship decision. But Twitter denied the appeal. And Twitter’s office of government affairs ignored CBP’s communications. Only after CBP reached out to Twitter’s office of government affairs a second time and went public with this censorship, then finally Twitter admitted its bad judgment and unlocked the account.
I call on you to commit to never again censoring content on your platform and obstructing Americans’ unalienable right to communicate with each other and with their government and its officials, including the thousands of law enforcement officers at the DHS who work vigilantly and diligently to protect your safety every day.
Chad F. Wolf