ST. PETERSBURG — Congressional candidate Anna Paulina Luna, who last month secured the Republican nomination to take on U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist in November, is threatening to sue Twitter because it hasn’t verified her account.
She says the social media company is censoring her voice.
A conservative and Hispanic social media darling, Luna has 195,000 followers on Twitter. Yet the blue check mark next to her name that signifies verification has eluded her.
“Ultimately I do feel that this is political prejudice," she told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday.
Twitter declined to comment.
Verification indicates to other Twitter users that a profile is in the public interest and authentic, which can lead to more followers and a higher social media profile. In February, Twitter’s Public Policy Director Bridget Coyne wrote in a blog post that the company would verify “candidates running for US House of Representatives, US Senate, or Governor in the 2020 US election who have qualified for the general election ballot.”
Luna’s campaign provided emails that show she has been trying to become verified since February. In response to her inquiries, Twitter has replied with a form email saying that to become verified, candidates must meet the threshold set by Ballotpedia, a nonprofit online encyclopedia of American politics and elections. They must also meet certain profile requirements like having a profile and header photo, a biography, a website that identifies them as a candidate, and they must comply with Twitter rules.
Luna says she’s done all that, and her campaign for Florida’s 13th Congressional District reached out again after she won the August primary. Still, her account remains without the blue check mark.
Primary election opponents Amanda Makki and George Buck were both verified by Twitter. Both of Crist’s accounts, his official account and his campaign account, are also verified.
“I do believe that they’re doing it because they don’t want someone like myself to have a voice or a platform," said Luna, who has previously drawn the ire of Twitter. Her account has been temporarily suspended twice in the past.
In a tweet, Luna called it “election meddling.”
“They want to suppress minority, conservative, millennial voices whose political views don’t align with Twitter’s," said her campaign spokesman, James Blair. "It’s just ridiculous. What can you call it, other than censorship?”
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