A former Republican congressional candidate in New York said he was locked out of his Twitter account after he responded to an Elon Musk post with a meme that implied people who don't identify as male or female are mentally ill.
"The new Twitter is feeling very much like the old Twitter," Mario Fratto, 38, told Fox News Digital.
Fratto, who ran for Congress last year in New York's 24th Congressional District, had posted a meme showing two circles representing the male and female genders with two other circles overlapping marked "mentally ill."
The post was marked as hateful, but Fratto compared his suspension to Orwellian censorship and said he refused to delete the tweet because it would violate his beliefs on biological sex.
"I just feel like I'd be compromising my principles if I sit here and say, 'OK, I'll just take it down because it's hateful or whatever it is,'" Fratto said. "Because I don't believe that. I think it's just an honest statement of fact, which also is a personal belief."
Fratto said he was informed his account was suspended last week and told he must delete the tweet to restore his access. He was also told he could appeal the decision to a French court.
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The former candidate said one of the reasons he ran for Congress was in response to his alleged suppression on YouTube following a video questioning Dr. Anthony Fauci.
"It's like Twitter was my only safe space, basically," said Fratto, who noted that he had hoped Elon Musk's purchase of the company would loosen its restrictions on controversial opinions.
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Likening the rank-and-file of Twitter to a "Deep State" that governs independently of elected officials, Fratto speculated that people opposed to free expression are "embedded" within the social media company regardless of Musk's takeover.
"I think there are people there who have more power than the people who are supposedly in charge because they're actually the nuts and bolts of the operation," he said.
Twitter did not respond to Fox News Digital's request for comment by time of publication.
Fratto mentioned that Twitter CEO Musk had previously responded to one of his tweets, concurring that the College of Psychologists of Ontario's directive for Jordan B. Peterson to receive mandatory social media communication retraining was reminiscent of George Orwell's "1984."
"So to me, this is like 1984," Fratto said of his own situation. "We're literally pretending that certain people are certain things and if you don't hold that belief, you're considered hateful or a bigot. It's just bizarre to me. Because obviously I think it's a very valid opinion, and I wasn't encouraging violence or hate or anything." He noted that he has fielded death threats and vitriol from some Twitter users since posting the meme.
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Fratto believes there should be legislative repercussions for social media platforms that suppress speech.
"I think they need to punish or at least fine these platforms that are doing this. If it's anything that is lawful speech, then there needs to be some sort of fine because I think Elon Musk said it best that this is the new public square," he said.
"If I can't be on Twitter and get anybody to see what I'm saying, and I can't be on Facebook, and I don't own a television network or radio station, then there's nowhere for me to get my views out there without literally standing on a soapbox somewhere," he continued.
The father of a 1-year-old son, Fratto said his concern for future generations has compelled him to stand up for freedom of speech. He worries the clampdown on controversial ideas in the virtual public square will frighten people from speaking out.
"We're getting to a point where if you can't address the real problems because you're scared to talk about it, then you're going to end up in a position where you'll never correct them because the real problem can't be spoken," he said.
"This is exactly the reason why I was running, because of these types of cultural issues, where it just feels like the inmates are running the asylum and nobody's speaking up," he added.