FACT CHECK: Is Twitter Blocking Posts That Use The Phrase ‘Illegal Alien’?

Shane Devine | Fact Check Reporter

Conservative author and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk claimed Thursday that Twitter is blocking posts that say “illegal alien.”

“Twitter is blocking posts that use phrase ‘illegal alien’ as ‘hateful content,'” Kirk tweeted.

Verdict: False

Twitter did not block posts that use the term “illegal alien.” The tech giant received scrutiny for declining to promote a number of tweets through its ad service that contained the phrase.

Twitter says it rejected the tweets in error and has overturned its decision. A Twitter spokesperson told The Daily Caller that the phrase “illegal alien” is not considered “hateful content” under its terms of service.

Fact Check:

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a think tank that advocates for lower levels of immigration, said Wednesday that Twitter had rejected requests to promote four of their tweets using Twitter’s ad service.

The tweets in question can be seen on the official Twitter page for CIS and were never taken down from the platform, nor were they ever blocked from being posted as Kirk claimed.

CIS asked Twitter why their request to promote the tweets had been rejected. According to CIS, Twitter replied, “We’ve reviewed your tweets and confirmed that it is ineligible to participate in the Twitter Ads program at this time based on our Hateful Content policy. Violating content includes, but is not limited to, that which is hate speech or advocacy against a protected group.”

CIS executive director Mark Krikorian went on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” the same day to discuss Twitter’s decision. Krikorian said they were not given specifics regarding the rejection and guessed that it had to be the phrases “illegal alien” or “criminal alien” since those terms had been used in the tweets.

Krikorian described Twitter’s answer to their inquiry as a “boilerplate response” that did not specify if “illegal alien” was the term under scrutiny. “If that were the rule, at least we would know that was the rule,” Krikorian said.

A spokesperson for Twitter told TheDC that rejecting CIS’s request was an error, and the company has since overturned the decision. He clarified that the phrase “illegal alien” itself is not a violation of the terms of service, and that any user, including CIS, can promote a tweet which uses the phrase.

Krikorian acknowledged that the decision had been overturned and updated his followers on Twitter about it.

“I’m glad, but what are you supposed to do if can’t get on @TuckerCarlson to complain?” Krikorian tweeted.

TheDC contacted Kirk, who provided the following statement:

“While we’re all glad that Twitter has reversed course and is now allowing promoted posts by CIS that included the words ‘illegal aliens,’ there comes a point where it will no longer suffice for Twitter and other social media platforms to simply claim it was another mistake. Eventually we have to ask why does it seem social media platforms only make mistakes when conservatives are involved?”

Krikorian and Kirk’s comments come after allegations of Twitter “shadow banning” conservatives became prominent in July when it was noticed that several Republican figures, including GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Donald Trump Jr.’s spokesman, were not appearing in Twitter’s drop-down search results.

VICE was the first to report on the story. “The notion that social media companies would suppress certain political points of view should concern every American,” McDaniel told the news outlet.

Twitter had responded that they were “aware” some users were not appearing in search results and were “shipping a change to address this.” When asked why it appeared that only Republican users were being affected and not Democrats, the Twitter spokesperson replied, “I’d emphasize that our technology is based on account *behavior* not the content of Tweets.”

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently delivered testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce about his platform and the topic of political bias. “Twitter does not use political ideology to make any decisions, whether related to ranking content on our service or how we enforce our rules,” he said in written testimony. “We believe strongly in being impartial, and we strive to enforce our rules impartially.”

Follow Shane on Twitter

Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected].

Shane Devine

Fact Check Reporter