Metro

Satanic Temple says Twitter discriminated against it by not verifying account

The Satanic Temple

A Salem-based organization that calls itself The Satanic Temple has asked the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination to investigate its belief that Twitter’s policies discriminated against it on religious grounds.

The complaint was filed with the MCAD on March 12, according to commission spokesman H. Harrison, who said the agency would release no further information until it investigates whether there is probable cause, a process that can take 18 months.

The organization alleges that Twitter wrongly suspended two of its accounts after someone posted a tweet calling for setting fire to the organization’s headquarters. The social network has restored the two accounts but not given them “verified” status yet.

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“The failure of Twitter to verify both accounts . . . clearly demonstrates a pattern of hostile discriminatory behavior engaged in by Twitter against The Satanic Temple,’’ cofounder Lucien Greaves said in a statement. “It reveals the biased human agency behind a facade of neutral and evenly enforced standards.”

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An attorney for Greaves, Marc J. Randazza, said in a statement that the standards used by Twitter to determine whether to suspend — or verify — a user account are deeply flawed because the rules favor groups that share the social network’s views.

“Twitter has decided who it disfavors, politically, ethnically, and religiously, and they get significantly less free expression rights on Twitter than its favored groups,’’ he wrote. “Satanists are equal to any other religious adherents under the law, and deserve to be treated equally.’’

The organization has also launched a fund-raising drive to support the Twitter litigation.

A Twitter spokeswoman said the company had no comment.

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Twitter says in the “Help Center” section of its website that “an account may be verified if it is determined to be an account of public interest. Typically this includes accounts maintained by users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas. A verified badge does not imply an endorsement by Twitter.”

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.