Twitter may see white nationalist Jared Taylor in court (because a judge said so)

The future of free speech on Twitter may (eventually) hang in the balance.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
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Twitter is trying to combat harassment, but it may have gone too far. 

That's the preliminary opinion from a California superior court judge who rejected the social network's bid to dismiss a lawsuit by white nationalist Jared Taylor and his American Renaissance group -- meaning Taylor may have his day in court.

Taylor sued Twitter after he was banned by the social network, and is now arguing that the company's abrupt ban violates his free speech rights, while Twitter argues that Taylor and his group violated the company's recently updated terms of service.

But Judge Harold Kahn is siding with the white nationalist -- at least long enough to hear him out. He called it a "classic public interest lawsuit" that "goes to the heart of free speech principles that long precede our constitution," according to court documents (which you can read at the bottom of this post).

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"Now, it may be speech that you and I don't wish to enjoy, but that's not germane to the determination of whether it's public interest," Kahn told Twitter's lawyer.

Twitter argued that the company itself has a First Amendment right to decide what kind of speech it should be able to allow on its platform, but the judge suggested that Twitter's own free speech argument might not hold up in court against claims like "it's substantively unconscionable to deprive people of the most important platform to speak and to be able to seek redress of their legislators."

"Now, all of that may be wrong, but that's why we have lawsuits, is so that the other side can show it's wrong," Kahn said.

"We are very pleased that a judge has finally decided that the censorship now common on the Internet has gotten out of hand. We hope to win further battles and eventually outlaw content-based Internet censorship," Taylor told CNET.

Twitter didn't respond to a request for comment. 

Originally published June 15 at 5:13 p.m. PT.

Correction, June 16 at 11 a.m. PT: to correct spelling of judge's name to Harold Kahn.

Update, June 18 at 3:30 p.m. PT: Added Taylor's comment.