Over the weekend, Twitter locked the account of conservative satire site the Babylon Bee after it named U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine their “Man of the Year” for 2022. Levine is a transgender woman.
“I just received this notice that we’ve been locked out of our account for ‘hateful conduct,’” Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon posted on Twitter. Twitter cited its rules against “hateful conduct” for the ban. Its terms of service note that “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.” Twitter has considered deadnaming trans people to fall under its “hateful conduct” policy since 2018.
On March 15, the Babylon Bee posted an article trolling Levine by deadnaming her and making fun of her for wearing dresses in a faux-congratulatory tone. The post came a couple of days after USA Today named Levine one of its Women of the Year.
Twitter told Dillon that the Bee’s account would be restored 12 hours after they deleted the post, which the Bee is refusing to do. “We’re not deleting anything,” Dillon posted. “Truth is not hate speech. If the cost of telling the truth is the loss of our Twitter account, then so be it.”
We're told our account will be restored in 12 hours, but the countdown won't begin until we delete the tweet that violates the Twitter Rules. pic.twitter.com/85tdmrqJpU
— Seth Dillon (@SethDillon) March 20, 2022
Dillon asked Bee supporters to “never censor” themselves and sign up for the Bee’s newsletter and/or their premium service. “If enough of you do that, we won’t need traffic from big tech platforms to generate revenue,” he added.
The Babylon Bee started as a niche Christian church humor website that has grown into a cultural force in recent years as it evolved its focus to politics and culture war jokes. It’s attracted boosts from fans like Elon Musk and various members of the Trump family, but has also found itself on the business end of some terms of service agreements for its edgy and occasionally controversial humor. Facebook briefly demonetized the site in 2020 and Snopes has even rated one of their satirical articles as “false” on more than one occasion.