The Center for Inquiry (CFI) and the Richard Dawkins Foundation (RDF) released an open letter urging Twitter to restore Atheist Republic’s Twitter account or, at the very least, explain how the suspension was carried out.
In an open letter dated May 9, 2022, Richard Dawkins, a board member of the RDF, and Robyn Blumner, President and CEO of CFI, inculpated Twitter of hindering Atheist Republic’s ability to “communicate with fellow nonbelievers across the world.”
Susanna McIntyre, the CEO of Atheist Republic, said she was met with an “Account Suspended” notification when she tried logging in on April 1, 2022. Later that week, Atheist Republic announced that it could not access its Twitter account.
Although this was not the first time Atheist Republic’s Twitter account was suspended, the previous suspension provided a specific violation.
In November 2021, Atheist Republic’s Twitter was suspended over “multiple false copyright claims.”
According to Atheist Republic, the suspension was “due to the review period for counter-notifications taking much longer than the process to claim an account.” Atheist Republic’s account was later reinstated after a successful DMCA counter-notification.
This time, the suspension is vague and presents no avenue for an appeal with Twitter. More than a month after the account suspension in April, Twitter has not given any clear explanation about the suspension.
Despite the ongoing lawsuit filed by Delhi-based lawyer Aditya Singh Deshwal in July last year, Twitter is still required to justify the suspension of the account. The lack of explanation about the suspension makes it more difficult to determine what led to this action against the account and how to correct it.
McIntyre also received an email from Twitter on March 28, a few days before the suspension, notifying Atheist Republic of the legal proceedings in India. In the email, Twitter informed McIntyre that they “received a court order from the High Court of Delhi at New Delhi” regarding a violation.
“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,” Twitter’s email said.
Twitter did not disclose any valid reason or plans to suspend Atheist Republic’s account.
Their open letter, addressed to Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s head of Legal, Public Policy & Trust and Safety, and Laura Culbertson, the head of US Public Policy for Twitter, Dawkins, and Blumner called Twitter a “lifeline” for atheist communities around the world.
“It permits those in areas where public displays of atheism would be met by hostility, violence, or criminal sanctions to participate in and gather the benefits of community,” the letter said.