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Former Trump lawyer threatens Twitter class-action suit as censorship expands beyond COVID

Suspended epidemiologist Andrew Bostom "ready, willing, and able to serve as a lead plaintiff," former FDA chief counsel warns. Meta throttles criticism of White House "recession" definition. Twitter targets criticism — but not defense — of sexual grooming.

Published: August 8, 2022 6:12pm

Updated: August 9, 2022 11:21pm

As the subjects routinely censored by social media companies expand beyond public health and sexuality to economics, the former federal lawyer behind a landmark Twitter reinstatement is raising the stakes.

James Lawrence III sent Twitter a formal warning letter Saturday threatening a class-action lawsuit on behalf of users suspended for "sharing their views and opinions on COVID-19," with deplatformed Ivy League epidemiologist Andrew Bostom "ready, willing, and able to serve as a lead plaintiff."

Twitter suspended Bostom twice in a month for sharing research on COVID vaccine side effects. "His comments can be substantiated by actual pediatric and adult data" from Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials, according to Lawrence, former Department of Health and Human Services deputy general counsel and chief counsel at the FDA.

Lawrence floated the same breach-of-contract grounds a federal judge allowed to proceed in his client Alex Berenson's lawsuit against the company, which the parties settled last month.

Even if Bostom's latest flagged tweet violated Twitter's COVID misinformation policy, the company has yet to identify the previous four "strikes" on his account that would merit suspension under its five-strike policy, the lawyer said, giving Twitter until Friday to back down. Twitter didn't respond to queries about the threat.

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Meta is warning Facebook and Instagram users against sharing a post that claims the White House "is redefining what a recession is" by pointing to a July 21 Council of Economic Advisors post that disputes the common definition of "recession" as two consecutive quarters of falling real GDP.

The Facebook warning says the claim is "partly false," which throttles its reach. The label points to a review by its official fact-checker PolitiFact that actually deems the claim "false" with no qualifier. 

While PolitiFact said the two-quarter definition "has a good historical track record of lining up with recessions" and has the benefit of real-time calculation, it claimed the White House didn't change the definition because only the National Bureau of Economic Research, "the official recession scorekeeper," can determine recessions.

Economist Phil Magness accused the White House of ignoring the "conventional textbook definition" that the federal government has "historically followed" so as to minimize "electoral backlash" this fall, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Neither Facebook nor PolitiFact responded to queries to explain the certainty of the "false" rating.

Meanwhile, Twitter suspended Nicole Solas, known for her ongoing public records fights over race and gender curricula in Rhode Island public schools, in late July for "hateful conduct." She told Just the News she has "reached out to attorneys" to discuss a lawsuit, "but I don't think I have a good enough case." 

She had accused Colorado state representatives of "[s]tate-sponsored grooming" for promoting a nonprofit that connects teens with "professional drag performers" to perform on the Discovery+ TV show "Generation Drag."

Solas reprinted her appeal of the suspension in an Independent Women's Forum essay. "Drag is gay sexual fetish which is written about extensively in scholarly publications and Colorado State reps support a nonprofit applying this fetish to children," she told Twitter.

Drag for children "normalizes grooming behavior that would otherwise be considered a red flag," Solas said, pointing to expert testimony on the "five stages of grooming" in the Ghislaine Maxwell criminal trial. "It gives cover to those who do have the intent to sexually abuse children. ...  It is the effect of grooming on a child that matters, not the groomer’s intent."

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Twitter deplatformed a much higher-profile user last week, mathematician and "grievance studies" prankster James Lindsay, for the hateful conduct of calling a transgender Harvard instructor a "child sexualization specialist." The instructor, Alejandra Caraballo, initiated the exchange by accusing Lindsay of "misogynoir [sic]" and took credit for the suspension

Lindsay told The Post Millennial that Twitter showed it has "a vested interest in protecting the sexualization of children" and it may have "an untoward relationship" with Media Matters. He was locked out last month for calling the liberal group's LGBTQ program director a "groomer," and in May for suggesting "long COVID" may be vaccine injuries.

"The problem is that you arbitrarily changed the rules ... after repeatedly forcing me to lie to admissions of guilt for 'violations' that aren't real, you should unsuspend my account and correct your bias and arbitrary policy enforcement," Lindsay said on his New Discourses podcast, quoting the appeal he filed with Twitter but emphasizing he didn't expect to be reinstated.

Twitter left alone tweets by a retired Maryland elementary school teacher commenting on a report about a Georgia couple charged with sexually abusing their adopted children and recording it.

"Maybe their birth families were worse in their physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological abuse," Laurie Kelly wrote. "The boys could have been better off with loving sexual relationships." Elsewhere she wrote: "I would want to know if the children were hurt. Enticing implies the willing cooperation of a child in the name of love and affection."

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Kelly identifies herself as a "virtual advisor" for the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She didn't respond to Just the News to confirm she was saying child sexual abuse might be better than other forms of child abuse. 

"We live in an Orwellian hellscape," a self-identified male-to-female transsexual user tweeted after enduring a 12-hour lockout for telling a transgender woman: "Not a real woman, not a lesbian. Own yourself like I do." The user told Just the News they deleted the tweet to restore the account.

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