Various new sites are now reporting that Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) is the latest politician who has sought blatant censorship of political critics by social media companies. Shortly before the 2020 election (when many of us were writing about the expanding censorship calls by Democratic politicians), Hobbs allegedly sought to silence her critics on Twitter. Many were criticizing 2017 posts in which she claimed former President Donald Trump had a “neo-nazi base.” Hobbs considered such criticism to be intolerable and demanded that these citizens be censored.
A conservative site reported that Hobbs said Trump had a “neo-nazi base” while she was serving as a Democrat state senator in 2017. Hobbs’ tweet echoed criticism that Trump praised Neo-Nazi rioters in Charlottesville. (Trump has denied that allegation and pointed to various times after the riot where he condemned those extremist elements).
“The President is on the side of the freaking Nazis. Don’t just say stuff – DO SOMETHING,” she added.
The President is on the side of the freaking Nazis. Don't just say stuff - DO SOMETHING!!! https://t.co/Es9ScskF58— Katie Hobbs (@katiehobbs) August 12, 2017
She added: “It took you a day and a half to figure this out? Also if you’re not condemning @POTUS for not condemning nazis, it’s just words.”
It now turns out that that Hobbs was irate at being criticized and reached out to Twitter to censor her critics.
Fox News reported:
On Nov. 13, 2020, Hobbs emailed Twitter - using her official Arizona secretary of state email - asking the support team to take action against her online trolls.
Twitter asked for more information and for Hobbs to provide examples for her request, which Hobbs was unable to provide.
Hobbs responded that she was being harassed and abused by the “alt-right.” She added
“I am not sure I can provide the information you are asking for because I reported and then blocked multiple users at the same time,. The alt-right got a hold of a 3-year-old tweet on my account and have been sending harassing, abusive, and threatening tweets and direct messages for the last 2 days.”
That message is chilling in a number of respects.
First, it is clearly an abuse of her office to be used for the purposes of censorship of political critics.
Second, she admits that she blocked the critics but still wants the company to prevent others from hearing such views.
Third, she does not allege that the story is false and admits that it was her tweet. She simply does not want people talking about it.
It is a raw and unambiguous effort of a high-ranking official to censor political speech.
It is also an example of what I have called “censorship by surrogate.” Hobbs secretly sought to deny free speech to citizens through allies in these social media companies.
The Arizona legislature should investigate these allegations and hold Hobbs accountable for any attack on political speech.