George Galloway has threatened to sue Twitter after the social network branded his account a “state-affiliated Russian media”.
The former MP, whose radio program The Mother of All Talk Shows aired on Russian public service Sputnik just last week, said he would sue Twitter within the next seven days for defamation unless that it cancels the label.
“I do not work for ANY Russian media. I have 400,000 subscribers. I am the leader of a British political party and have spent nearly 30 years in the UK parliament,” Galloway tweeted on Thursday.
On Saturday, Galloway’s lawyers filed a notice in Ireland, warning Twitter that legal action was about to begin. “Twitter miscalculated here in assigning this terribly harmful designation to Mr. Galloway’s account,” said attorney Kevin Winters, of KRW Law. “Whatever strategic, political or other reasons played into this decision, it only served to galvanize his fight to protect his name and reputation.
“His reasonable request to remove this offensive and damaging designation was ignored by Twitter. This is simply unacceptable and inexcusable. Everyone knows George has strong political views and isn’t shy about expressing them, but that’s not a license to Twitter or anyone else to demonize him in this way.
The review argues that Galloway is “well known for his independence of thought and opinion” and that “he has never accepted or been subject to any scrutiny, editing, interference or other restrictions on his right to freedom of expression, to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas.
Twitter began labeling state-affiliated media in 2020, initially focusing on members of the UN Security Council – widely seen as an excuse to initially focus on Russian and Chinese state media. The policy immediately fell into controversy after the social network refused to label Voice of America, NPR or the BBC as such, arguing that they were instead “state-funded media organizations with independent editorial”.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, however, Twitter has begun applying the label to people associated with state media organizations. In February, Rachel Blevins, host of a show on the American channel RT, complained about being tagged, arguing that “I am an individual journalist who does not speak for Russia or for the Russian media”.
Twitter declined to comment.