One of my favorite actors, Adam Baldwin, recently quit Twitter in protest over the increasing extent to which Twitter is shutting down and silencing conservative voices:
Baldwin, who currently stars in the TNT hit show ‘The Last Ship,’ tells Independent Journal Review that Twitter’s new policy of punishing users for speech it finds “offensive” is the reason for his departure from the social platform:
“It’s really a shame that so-called ‘liberal thinkers’ and the so called ‘tolerant crowd’ is intolerant of varying viewpoints. They’re so afraid to hear people disagree with them. Instead of ignoring it or providing their own arguments in return, they say “shut up!”
“I’ve had enough. Twitter is dead to me,” Baldwin tells us, “I’m going to find greener pastures elsewhere and I’m not coming back.”
Twitter has been removing verified status from prominent conservatives, banned some outright, and shadow banning others. On top of which, of course, Twitter has created a "trust and safety" council (vaguely reminiscent of the Committee of Public Safety), entirely staffed by left-of-center activists.
Twitter is a public company, which raises an issue that has often puzzled me: Why don't conservative activists use SEC Rule 14a-8 (the so-called shareholder proposal rule) to put proposals on corporate proxy statements?
SEC Rule 14a-8 allows shareholders to put proposals on their company's proxy statement and thereby force a shareholder vote on the proposal. As the SEC explains:
Rule 14a-8 provides an opportunity for a shareholder owning a relatively small amount of a company's securities to have his or her proposal placed alongside management's proposals in that company's proxy materials for presentation to a vote at an annual or special meeting of shareholders. It has become increasingly popular because it provides an avenue for communication between shareholders and companies, as well as among shareholders themselves. The rule generally requires the company to include the proposal unless the shareholder has not complied with the rule's procedural requirements or the proposal falls within one of the 13 substantive bases for exclusion described in the table below. ...
To be eligible to submit a proposal, rule 14a-8(b) requires the shareholder to have continuously held at least $2,000 in market value, or 1%, of the company's securities entitled to be voted on the proposal at the meeting for at least one year by the date of submitting the proposal. Also, the shareholder must continue to hold those securities through the date of the meeting.
What I propose is that a conservative shareholder who has held at least $2,000 worth of Twitter stock for at least one year submit a shareholder proposal for inclusion in Twitter's 2017 proxy statement (it's probably too late to get it into the 2016 proxy statement) that would recite the ways in which Twitter is engaged in viewpoint discrimination and ask the board to take appropriate action.
Do NOT try this at home without legal advice. There is an exception to the rule that allows companies to exclude matters relating to ordinary business. The SEC staff has routinely allowed media companies to exclude shareholder proposals relating to liberal bias in programming and news reporting as relating to the company's ordinary business. You will need counsel to draft the proposal carefully to avoid the ordinary business exception.
The odds are that the SEC staff will allow Twitter to exclude the proposal regardless of its merits, of course. The staff leans left and the current Commission has a Democrat majority.
So we'd need a shareholder with deep pockets to hire a good legal team to sue in federal district court to compel Twitter to include the proposal (or maybe a good legal team willing to do it pro bono--maybe some conservative legal foundation?). Or maybe crowdfund it?