I-Team: Former Congressman Lou Barletta’s Twitter account suspended, company says it made a mistake

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HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A former Congressman from our region says he believes he was targeted by Twitter because he is a conservative voice.

Republican Lou Barletta’s Twitter account was suspended for about a day. The company says it was suspended in error but Barletta says he’s not buying it.

Barletta insists that the suspension of his Twitter account was no accident. He is calling for lawmakers to take a close look at how social media platforms — like Twitter — operate.

“Without any warning, without any notice, without any reason Sunday afternoon my Twitter account had been suspended,” Barletta said.

That suspension was lifted Monday afternoon.

“We received notice from Twitter that they were restoring my account and that it was flagged by mistake,” Barletta said.

Barletta sent us the tweets that he sent shortly before his account was suspended.

“As you could see from my last few tweets there’s nothing there that is hateful or over the top where I deserved to have my account taken down,” Barletta said.

A spokesperson for Twitter issued a statement to the I-Team regarding Barletta’s account suspension.

“The account you referenced was suspended in error for perceived violations of our impersonation policy. This has been reversed and the account has been reinstated.”

Twitter Spokesperson

Barletta believes conservative voices are being targeted.

“We want to promote healthy conversations on Twitter. If we identify accounts that violate our Twitter Rules, we’ll take enforcement action.”

Twitter Spokesperson

Twitter also gave a response regarding President Trump’s account.

“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

Twitter Spokesperson

Barletta, who is and has been a strong supporter of President Trump, questions the timing of Twitter’s suspension action.

“There’s no question about it. I’ve been very vocal about questioning the integrity of the election here in Pennsylvania. It’s well known that I’ve been a supporter of the President. The President had his account taken down on Friday, I had mine taken down coincidentally on Sunday,” Barletta said.

Barletta tells the I-Team he is reaching out to his former colleagues in Washington to look into how social media outlets operate.

“Something needs to be done when big tech, these big businesses can’t just single out individuals and those people would have no recourse to know where else to go,” Barletta said.

Eyewitness News spoke to a political science professor from Bloomsburg University about how the First Amendment factors into this discussion.

“Twitter and all other social media platforms are technically privately owned… they are not bound by the First Amendment,” said Dr. Neil Strine.

Again, Twitter, in their statement, says the suspension of Barletta’s account was an error.

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