UK's George Galloway sues Twitter over Russia label

Former Labour MP says Twitter’s labelling of his account and posts ‘is the New McCarthyism’

GRETNA GREEN, SCOTLAND - APRIL 20: George Galloway leader of the All For Unity Party campaigns during the Scottish Parliament election with a speech at the Gretna Gateway Outlet on April 20, 2021 in Gretna, Scotland. Mr Galloway visited Gretna with his wife Gayatri, where he gave a speech slamming First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's handling of the Coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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Former British Labour MP George Galloway has launched a defamation case against Twitter at the High Court in Dublin after it labelled his account “Russian state-affiliated media”.

Mr Galloway, 67, is also claiming that Twitter unlawfully processed his personal data by labelling and censoring his account.

The politician and broadcaster presented The Mother of All Talkshows on the Russian state-owned Radio Sputnik service, and Sputnik: Orbiting the World with George Galloway on the Kremlin-linked RT network, formerly known as Russia Today.

The channel was shut down by British government sanctions in March after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Mr Galloway’s talk show is now broadcast on YouTube.

Twitter added the label “Russian state-affiliated media” on Mr Galloway’s profile and posts on the social media platform.

He said that Twitter’s “unjust labelling of honestly held political views is the New McCarthyism and it must be held accountable”.

Mr Galloway rejected Twitter’s assertion and denied that he was ever “Russian state-affiliated media”. Being labelled as such was “perverse, unjust and highly damaging”, he said.

He said the label was applied to his Twitter account after he had stopped presenting on Russian television channels.

A spokeswoman for Twitter in Dublin declined to comment on the legal proceedings.

Twitter had refused to provide information about the labelling when it was first applied six months ago, said Mr Galloway’s lawyer, Kevin Winters.

Mr Winters said his client was taking the case to Dublin because “Twitter contests jurisdiction anywhere else” and because Ireland was where the data controller for all EU and UK Twitter accounts are asserted to be.

He said Twitter’s refusal to explain the labelling was “unbecoming for a major corporation, not least one which styles itself as the ‘public square’”.

Mr Galloway described himself as a “man of independent mind”.

“To have attached to my every utterance — on football to family on politics to popular music — a completely false statement that my views are Russian state-directed is unconscionable and a daily stab to the heart of who and what I am,” he said.

Twitter states it uses state-affiliated media labels on accounts where a government exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressure and control over production, and accounts belonging to state-affiliated media entities, their editors-in-chief or prominent staff.

Mr Galloway’s case will be regarded as a test on how Twitter manages its content moderation in the future, as billionaire Elon Musk plans a €41 billion ($44bn) takeover of the social media platform, which he wants to be “an inclusive arena for free speech”.

Updated: May 26, 2022, 10:39 PM