A Salem organization called The Satanic Temple accused Twitter of religious discrimination. The founder of The Satanic Temple, Lucien Greaves, filed a complaint in March with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, and said that “Twitter unjustly suspended their accounts after someone tweeted a threat against the organization”. A report from The Boston Globe notes that Twitter restored the accounts but without the status of “verified” that Greaves wants.

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The Temple, which set up an international headquarters in Salem in 2016, says the social media company did not respond adequately after a Twitter user threatened to burn its building down. It also accuses the company of inappropriately suspending two accounts run by its spokesman, and alleges it declined to “verify” those accounts on religious grounds.

Questioning twitter standard for verification

“The failure of Twitter to verify both accounts, which both clearly meet Twitter’s documented standards for verification, compounded by the suspension of the accounts clearly demonstrates a pattern of hostile discriminatory behavior engaged in by Twitter against The Satanic Temple,” Greaves says in a statement. “It reveals the biased human agency behind a facade of neutral and evenly enforced standards.” A lawyer for Salem organization alleges that the standards that Twitter uses to determine the suspension and verification of users are influenced by their favoritism towards groups that share the positions of the social network.

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Through a spokesperson, Twitter tells Boston it will not comment on individual accounts. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination confirmed that it is “actively investigating” the complaint, but declined to comment further. Twitter states that an account is verified if it is determined to be in the public interest. The facilities of The Satanic Temple are zoned as an art gallery open to the public and features exhibitions, lectures and film screenings. Followers of the Satanic Temple claim they do not literally worship the Antichrist, and say that its use of Satanic imagery is meant to symbolize a fight against tyranny and in support of other values, such as “benevolence and empathy among all people,” according to its website.

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