Actor James Woods has attacked Twitter after the social media giant locked him out of his account.
The Casino and Salvador star was told by the company he had violated the platform’s rules with a tweet sent in July.
The post in question featured a hoax meme claiming to come from the Democrats and encouraged men not to vote in the midterm elections.
Mr Woods – noted for his conservative views in liberal-leaning Hollywood – acknowledged the meme was probably not real when he shared it. But Twitter told the actor it still had the “potential to be misleading in a way that could impact an election”. The company locked him out of his account after he refused to delete it.
“Free speech is free speech — it’s not Jack Dorsey’s version of free speech,” he told the Associated Press news agency on Sunday, referring to Twitter’s chief executive. “The irony is Twitter accused me of affecting the political process, when in fact, their banning of me is the truly egregious interference. Because now, having your voice smothered is much more disturbing than having your vocal chords slit. If you want to kill my free speech, man up and slit my throat with a knife, don’t smother me with a pillow.”
He noted that his original tweet was reposted by his girlfriend and had been retweeted thousands of times but his girlfriend’s account was not locked. He said this was proof he had been singled out because of his large Twitter following of 1.7 million.
“I wish this were about an unknown Twitter user so that I could be even more passionate about it,” the 71-year-old said. “This is not about a celebrity being muzzled. This is about an American being silenced — one tweet at a time.”
The meme that Woods posted in July said #LetWomenDecide and #NoMenMidterm. It claimed to be from a Democratic group, but it was determined to be a hoax campaign to encourage liberal men not to vote in November, according to the website knowyourmeme.com.
Mr Woods acknowledged the meme probably was not real in his original tweet, saying: “Pretty scary that there is a distinct possibility this could be real. Not likely, but in this day and age of absolute liberal insanity, it is at least possible.”
The tweet is considered to be material that would suppress votes or deliberately deceive, and was found to be in violation of Twitter rules.
Twitter told Associated Press it does not comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.