Following high profile purges of conservative public figures, some may remember Laura Loomer, the deplatformed Republican candidate for U.S. House in Florida who once chained herself to Twitter’s headquarters, as a warning that congressional Republicans should have heard.
Loomer was banned from Twitter in 2018, something relatively unheard of at the time. Twitter decided her tweets were no longer fit for public consumption after she dared to call “Squad” member Rep. Ilhan Omar “anti-Jewish.”
Soon after, Loomer made national news when she handcuffed herself to Twitter’s headquarters in protest. Twitter was not amused.
Loomer ultimately sued Twitter, and the lawsuit failed in 2020.
Twitter remained stone faced when Loomer challenged its policy a different way in 2020: She ran for the U.S. House, and Twitter had promised at the time that elected officials and candidates would not be banned from its platform.
The big tech giant changed that rule as Loomer and other controversial figures, including Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, announced their plans to run for office. They would remain banned from Twitter.
Apparently, society judged, the risk of having Laura Loomer on social media was greater than the risk of having her in the U.S. House.
Regardless, Loomer went on to win a six-way primary contest to represent the Republican Party in 2020.
She broke party fundraising records for her district without using Twitter or Facebook to solicit donors. She was even endorsed by 45th President President Trump, who lives in the district and almost certainly voted for Loomer as his House representative.
Those who watched Loomer’s ban play out – alongside the bans of Gavin McInnes, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Paul Joseph Watson – likely experienced far less shock than the uninitiated when Twitter, Facebook, and a litany of other websites censored President Trump following the events of January 6, 2021.
The Republicans, having lost their majority in the U.S. Senate, having failed to secure the U.S. House, and being forced to accept the reality of losing the White House to the Democrats, suddenly realized that big tech might pose a threat.
Since President Trump was banned, some Republicans have made opposition to big tech a part of their messaging. Gutting Section 230 protections for big tech companies has become a talking point, and National File has spoken to two sources who believe some Senate Democrats may be willing to budge on the issue should Republicans retake the House in 2022.
Still, some say this may be a boon to big tech. They warn that tech giants will be able to handle lawsuits generated by the loss of Section 230 protections, while alt tech companies Gab, Gettr, and Parler would likely suffer disproportionately.
Many conservatives have also created accounts on Gab, Parler, GETTR, Telegram, and other alt tech platforms that either do not censor legal speech, or censor it to a milder degree.
Loomer, meanwhile, has continued to confront the big tech giants even as she mostly posts to Telegram, Gab, and Gettr.
She was recently seen levying accusations at former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in public as he spoke at a Bitcoin event.
Still, receiving political pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, social media companies have escalated their heavy handed tactics and banned Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s personal Twitter and Facebook accounts.
The tech giants had judged Greene guilty of spreading COVID-19 misinformation.
Greene, who previously campaigned with Loomer and urged Floridians to elect her to the U.S. House so that she might confront big tech giants, has since become a lightning rod for tech censorship.
However, despite her warning about tech censorship four years ago, many of the conservatives carrying Greene’s banner still seem wary of admitting that Loomer was right.
“I’ve been demanding Republicans hold big tech accountable since 2018,” Loomer told National File. “It’s nice that the Republican Party has finally decided to join me.”
She added, “Perhaps they can be intellectually honest with themselves and also recognize the censorship and deplatforming of all Republican candidates, even those who are considered America First outsiders.”
“Let me remind you of Kevin McCarthy’s own words,” Loomer mused. “‘The Republican Party is one big tent.'”
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican, made the statement while defending anti-Trump Republican Rep. Liz Cheney.
Loomer is correct to point out that the issue is largely political. Just this week, President Joe Biden urged the tech giants to censor “COVID-19 misinformation and disinformation.”
“I make a special appeal to social media companies and media outlets,” said Joe Biden. “Please deal with the misinformation and disinformation that’s on your shows, it has to stop.”
Joe Biden is driving home a fact Democrats have known for years: Social media has the ability to limit and shape public discourse.
Democrats also know that Silicon Valley overwhelming favors them, something proven in publicly accessible political donor information.
If Republicans had paid attention when Loomer was banned, when the Republican Party still held the House, Senate, and the White House, it seems likely this could have been avoided.
Even two years later, had Republicans paid attention in 2020, when Loomer was banned while running for public office and Republican Party still held the Senate and the White House, it seems likely this could have been avoided.
Instead, the Republican Party’s refusal to take action while in office has created an environment where big tech is able to punish them for violating ideological purity tests with impunity.
The ban of Greene, seen through this lens, is only the latest result of this environment, and it is likely a harbinger of what to expect from big tech companies between now and the midterm elections slated for November of this year.
Loomer has since filed to run for Congress again in 2022, and remains the only known candidate to be banned by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Stripe, the payment processor officially endorsed by the Republican Party.
She is challenging Republican incumbent Rep. Daniel Webster for his seat.