Twitter Suspends Humanitarian Account for Publishing Photos of the War in Yemen
UPDATE: Twitter has reinstated the account with apologies.
It isn’t just the right that is being subjected to Orwellian censorship on social media, Twitter is now censoring Pulitzer-worthy photos showing the horror of the war in Yemen.
On Tuesday, the social media platform banned the OpDesanitize account which publishes graphic photos from war zones the US is involved in — mainly Yemen. Their goal is to raise awareness of the true costs of war.
The suspension by Twitter of @OpDeSanitize, whose entire purpose was to help end a humanitarian crisis in Yemen by circulating images and stories from the brutal war, is shameful and exemplifies why we should be concerned about social media platforms editing political content. https://t.co/gQ4bG1NN6W
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 4, 2018
According to Walker Bragman, an independent journalist associated with the account, the suspension came after they sent a tweet questioning the Center for American Progress’ connections to the UAE. It also comes during the week when Senate is expected to vote on a measure to end US involvement in Yemen.
This comes after the account a recent tweet questioning the Center for American Progress' connections to the UAE.
— Walker Bragman (@WalkerBragman) December 4, 2018
Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress and one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest backers, has been at war with reporters who have questioned Democratic candidates taking money from the oil and gas industry.
First tweet: Neera Tanden responding to Trump’s criticisms of the press for doing its job.
Second tweet: Neera Tanden criticizing a journalist for doing his job. pic.twitter.com/0CH7SjfnM8
— Walker Bragman (@WalkerBragman) December 4, 2018
Let’s be very clear here: @NeeraTanden, the head of a think tank funded by huge donors including a major fossil fuel foreign country, is saying it is “seriously dangerous” for reporters to even mention campaign cash going to Democrats from donors in the fossil fuel industry. https://t.co/fTh4rbO0B8
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) December 4, 2018
Photos that were tweeted from the account were published unedited by Paste Magazine in August. They show the absolute horrific brutality that the US is currently supporting.
In the post Vietnam era it is exceedingly rare for American media to publish uncensored, gory images of war that reflect poorly on current US foreign policy. Today, @PasteMagazine and I did just that to show readers what is really going on in Yemen. https://t.co/ZB3ugJuak1
— Walker Bragman (@WalkerBragman) August 24, 2018
“Despite their propensity to offend viewer sensibilities, these scenes are necessary for American audiences. Images have a unique power to humanize brutality—to connect terms like ‘civilian casualties’ and ‘collateral’ to faces across the globe belonging to people who, as it turns out, look an awful lot like us. Footage can sway public opinion and catalyze policy change by delivering us from our detachment and laying bare our egocentrism,” Bragman wrote in his powerful article accompanying the photos in Paste.
He’s correct. Without facing the horrors we contribute to with our foreign policy, how can we possibly make decisions at the ballot box? Censorship of these images, and the subsequent discussions, is election meddling of the highest order.
In October, it was revealed that Saudi Arabia had groomed a Twitter employee to spy on dissenters. The report additionally detailed how Saudi operatives “mobilized to harass critics on Twitter” to stop them from speaking out and mass report content that they wanted censored.
“The government has created its Twitter army by paying young men about 10,000 Saudi riyals, or $3,000, a month to tweet,” the report explained.
— Arn Menconi (@ArnMenconi) December 2, 2018
On Tuesday, the Senate will be voting on S.J. Res. 54, which would end U.S. support for the war in Yemen.
“I applaud the Senate for taking action today to ensure a long-overdue debate on the Senate floor over ending the United States’ unauthorized support for the devastating war in Yemen. With thousands upon thousands of innocent lives lost in Yemen, and millions living on the edge of famine, we must send a clear message that this is not what America stands for, and I welcome a robust debate on ending our involvement in the war, stopping arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and restoring Congress’ voice in foreign policy,” Senator Rand Paul said in a statement about the vote.
These photos are more important than ever as the Senate goes to vote — but Silicon Valley has decided they don’t want you to see them.
Soon, the NAFTA-replacing trade agreement, USMCA, will give tech giants a special legal privilege to censor at will.
“USMCA entrenches the tech giants’ legal protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which grant them legal immunity for user-generated content. This is an important part of the law that allows tech platforms to host a wide variety of speech with light-touch moderation,” reports Allum Bokhari of Breitbart News. “But USMCA also entrenches tech companies’ right to censor without liability. Article 19.17 of the trade agreement gives tech companies immunity from any lawsuits arising from actions taken to ‘restrict material it considers to be harmful or objectionable.’”
The slippery slope is real… and we are tumbling down it rapidly.