The social media platform told The Epoch Times that the locking was done “in error’
Republican Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is criticizing social media platform LinkedIn for allegedly interfering with a presidential election as it locked his account over comments he made about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Biden administration, and climate change.
“If they can do it to me, they can do it to anyone. It’s remarkable that expressing fact-based views on climate policy and China-related policy, including legitimate criticism of President Biden, would result in outright censorship by a Microsoft-owned social media company,” Ramaswamy, who announced his candidacy on Feb. 16, wrote in a statement to The Epoch Times on Thursday.
“Big Tech election interference has begun,” Ramaswamy said in a Twitter post on the same day.
LinkedIn last week denied Ramaswamy access to his account for comments that the social media platform says violates its User Agreement and Professional Community Policies, according to a screenshot of the company’s notice sent in an email to Ramaswamy.
The comments in question, according to the same screenshot, include a Feb. 5 statement by Ramaswamy: “The CCP is playing the Biden administration like a Chinese mandolin. China has weaponized the ‘woke pandemic’ to stay one step ahead of us. And it’s working.”
Another comment, dated Feb. 16, reads: “If the climate religion was really about climate change, then they’d be worried about, say, shifting oil production from the U.S. to places like Russia and China. Yet, the climate religion and its apostles in the ESG movement have a different objective.”
A third comment, dated May 7, 2023, says, “The climate agenda is a lie: fossil fuels are a requirement for human prosperity.”
Ramaswamy made all three comments in videos posted on the platform.
LinkedIn’s action repeats a pattern of behavior shared by technological corporations that critics say amounts to censorship of alternative views. The platform wrote in an email to Ramaswamy on Thursday informing the presidential candidate that it does not “tolerate misinformation, hate speech, violence, or any form of abuse on our platform.”
“If you agree to abide by LinkedIn’s Terms and not to violate them again, we’ll grant another chance to regain access to your account,” reads a screenshot of another email that LinkedIn sent to Ramaswamy.
In response to a press inquiry on Thursday, LinkedIn wrote to The Epoch Times that Ramaswamy’s account was “restricted in error and it’s now back up.”
The Epoch Times contacted LinkedIn to clarify the apparent contradiction between the justification LinkedIn sent to Ramaswamy for locking his account and the explanation the platform sent to The Epoch Times for the action.
“We tried repealing the restrictions for more than a week, and LinkedIn doubled down on Vivek’s profile restriction,” a spokesperson for Ramaswamy wrote to The Epoch Times.
“Yet, the moment media attention shined light on LinkedIn’s censorship they suddenly say the account was ‘restricted in error.’”
Notably, Ramaswamy has been a vocal critic of what he describes as a collusion between the federal government and Big Tech; the latter, he says, censors viewpoints on behalf of the government.
He proposed in his book, “Woke Inc.,” to amend Section 230—a law granting internet platforms immunity from liability based on users’ content—to roll back the extent of the law’s protection of these online platforms. Section 230 also applies to LinkedIn.
“In other words, ‘Internet Service Providers’ would have a choice: either they could benefit from the extraordinary privilege of legal immunity against lawsuits from users alleging censorship while abiding by the First Amendment, or they could moderate and censor user content as they wish without the special shield of Section 230. But they can’t have both,” reads a segment of Woke Inc.
Ramaswamy repeated this message on the campaign trail.
“Now you have the government using tech companies to do, through the backdoor, what government could not get done through the front door,” he said at a campaign event in New York on April 26. “That’s not Big Tech censorship. That is government-tech censorship.”
Fast forward to today, Ramaswamy protested LinkedIn’s decision to lock his account, characterizing it as a part of a coordinated effort between “the left” and Big Tech.
“This is the embodiment of what’s wrong in America: an arranged marriage between large tech companies and the left that together accomplishes what neither could alone,” Ramaswamy told The Epoch Times on Thursday.
Previously, LinkedIn was also under fire for agreeing to content moderation actions on behalf of state actors.
LinkedIn in June 2021 censored a number of critics of the regime in Beijing—including some staff members of The Epoch Times—by blocking their accessibility in China in connection with the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
A spokesperson from LinkedIn wrote to The Epoch Times in response to a press inquiry at the time that it “respect[s] the laws that apply to us, including Chinese government regulations for our localized version of LinkedIn in China.”
The platform became one of a handful of Western social media platforms allowed to operate in mainland China when it launched a simplified Chinese site in 2014, after agreeing to the regime’s restrictions.
It shut down its China site in October 2021 after “facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China,” and launched a separate professional services site in the communist country that excludes the social media element, according to its public statement in October 2021.
Eva Fu contributed to this report.
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