Twitter can't be sued for terminating the account of right-wing activist Charles Johnson, a judge in California has ruled.
Johnson sued the platform in January, alleging that Twitter wrongly banned him due to his conservative views. Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Gaab rejected that contention this week, when she ruled that Twitter was entitled to throw Johnson off the service.
The dispute dates to May of 2015, when Twitter kicked off Johnson after he asked for money to “take out” a civil rights activist. Twitter also reportedly suspended Johnson's site @GotNewsDotCom. Johnson alleged that he had amassed 29,0000 followers by the time his account was terminated.
He argued that he was censored by Twitter due to his conservative views. "Twitter’s bias against those who espouse conservative political ideas is well known," he alleged in his legal papers. "Twitter has repeatedly banned conservative users under the guise of stopping harassment, but fails do the same when the harassers have a liberal viewpoint."
Gaab rejected that argument this week, when she said in a "tentative ruling" that Twitter has the right to decide what speech to allow on its platform. "Defendant’s choice not to allow certain speech is a right protected by the First Amendment," Gaab wrote.
The judge also noted that Twitter's rules forbid threatening tweets, and that Twitter says in its rules that it may "unilaterally, for any reason, terminate a user’s account."
Gaab additionally ruled that Twitter is protected by the Communications Decency Act, which has a provision protecting web sites that block "offensive material."
Twitter isn't the only tech company to face suit for alleged left-wing bias. Google was also recently sued by Prager University for allegedly censoring conservative clips.
A trial judge dismissed that that suit in March, but Prager is now asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the complaint.