Atheist Republic’s Twitter account, the largest atheist account on the platform, has been suspended yet again. Susanna McIntyre, the CEO of Atheist Republic, reports that she was met with an “Account Suspended” notification when she tried logging in to Atheist Republic’s Twitter on Friday, April 1st, 2022.
Atheist Republic’s Twitter account was previously suspended over a false DMCA copyright infringement claims in November 2021. “The copyright infringement claims against us were obviously false, so it was much easier to get our account back because we simply had to wait for our counter-notifications to be processed,” McIntyre explained.
What is unusual about this most recent suspension is that Atheist Republic has received no formal written notice that details what policy or community standard rule was violated and was therefore the reason for suspension. Twitter users are typically emailed a list of their tweets and/or content that broke the platform’s community guidelines when given restrictions or full suspensions, and these emails serve as an explanation for the punitive action.
You can help Atheist Republic by tweeting and tagging “@TwitterSupport” and asking Twitter to look into the cause of the suspension and to issue an explanation for the suspension. Here is an example tweet:
“.@TwitterSupport the user @AtheistRepublic has been suspended without any written explanation of which policies the account supposedly violated and were cause for the suspension. Please correct this.”
There is the possibility that this suspension may be related to Atheist Republic’s ongoing legal battle in India over a selection of “blasphemous” tweets.
On March 28th, as a result of the proceedings in the Delhi High Court, Atheist Republic received an email from Twitter Legal which stated “ Twitter has received a court order from the High Court of Delhi at New Delhi regarding your Twitter account, @AtheistRepublic, that claims [that] content violates the law(s) of India.” Importantly, the email also noted that, “In order to comply with Twitter’s obligations under India’s local laws, we have withheld this content in India; the content remains available elsewhere.” The email also contained a copy of the court order.
Atheist Republic’s lawyers had intervened at the court latest hearing, and as a result, was allowed to become a party to the case with the understanding that any “offending material” of the nature already directed to be removed by the court shall not be uploaded on Twitter until this matter is finally settled in the courts, and that Atheist Republic shall be remain bound by this undertaking. Should this condition not be upheld, Atheist Republic could be immediately blocked to all Twitter users in India. What is not entirely clear is what is considered offending material in this case: simply that which pertains to Hinduism and Hindu Goddesses, as the petitioner and court justices has taken particular issue with this type of content? Or is the criticism of other religions that Atheist Republic often posts also considered offending material? Any discussion of religion is a veritable minefield for offense depending on who is happens to be privy to the conversation and content. If “offending material” was a barometer for acceptable online content, nearly every atheist online creator would have to head into early retirement.
However, there are also factors that point to this suspension not being related to the ongoing legal case in India. Firstly, if hypothetically this arrangement with the Delhi High Court was the impetus for this suspension, it should have only been a block that affected the Indian market, not a suspension from the entire global market. Secondly, there have been ongoing targeted mass reporting campaigns against Atheist Republic, as evidenced by Hindu-nationalist online trolls posting screenshots of their reports against the @AtheistRepublic account as a symbol of their victory.
— INDIAN CYBER DEFENDER (@IndianCDefender) April 2, 2022
Even the lawyer who brought a petition before the Supreme Court of India regarding Atheist Republic’s blasphemy celebrated the news.
— Adv.Vineet Jindal (@vineetJindal19) April 3, 2022
Twitter’s suspension of Atheist Republic without any explanation makes it much more difficult to determine what led to this action against the account and how to correct it.
McIntyre said that Atheist Republic submitted an appeal to Twitter challenging the suspension, but it was “very quickly rejected.” The rejection of the appeal also did not specify which Twitter policy Atheist Republic violated.
The Atheist Republic Twitter account constitutes a very important method for the organization to reach out to new and current community members, as well as a key outreach tool that helps sustain the operations of the non-profit. According to McIntyre, Atheist Republic will “pursue every possible legal avenue to get our Twitter account back.” This will include hiring additional legal representation that will greatly increase Atheist Republic’s expenses.
Atheist Republic has set up a fundraiser to help cover the cost of the ongoing legal fees. Finding and retaining quality lawyers is vital to ensuring that we are treated fairly by social media platforms, as well as by the Indian government. Contributions towards our legal fund are an immeasurable help in our fight against the pressures of the Hindu-nationalists that want us silenced and gone from the public sphere.
This incident highlights the importance of having personal contacts at large social media companies, as there is little hope of remedying issues otherwise. If you or anyone you know has connections to Twitter, please reach out to Atheist Republic's CEO at Susanna@AtheistRepublic.com.