Washington, DC — The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) expresses concern at the sudden and disturbing temporary suspension of Dean Baker’s Twitter account today. Baker, who co-founded CEPR with Mark Weisbrot in 1999, and who currently works with CEPR as a senior economist, had his Twitter account, @DeanBaker13, “permanently suspended” without warning earlier today, only to see it reinstated a short time later, but with only a small fraction of the over 66,800 followers it had before it was suspended. Baker was not given any explanation for the suspension other than a boilerplate notification, and had never been warned that he had violated any of Twitter’s rules of conduct.
While it may have been due to a technical issue, Baker’s disturbing, temporary suspension follows the removal of some Twitter accounts in recent days that have criticized the company’s new owner, billionaire Elon Musk. The Intercept reports that several prominent antifascist accounts have been suspended since Musk took over Twitter at the end of October. Far-right Twitter accounts have been circulating a list of thousands of accounts that they are urging Musk to also suspend.
Baker has repeatedly criticized Musk on his “Beat the Press” blog and elsewhere, including most recently in a November 29 post in which Baker proposed reforms that could help to stop the spread of disinformation, defamation, and promotion of violence. Notably, in this post and in previous writings, Baker has called for the removal of Section 230 protections for social media platforms such as Twitter “that either sell advertising or personal information. This means that the big platforms could be held liable for defamatory material that they circulated over their platform,” Baker wrote. Baker continued to openly criticize Musk and Twitter after Musk purchased the company.
CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot highlighted Baker’s proposals and criticisms of Twitter in a recent column for Inside Sources that was published in the Miami Herald, the Detroit News, and dozens of other newspapers throughout the United States. Weisbrot wrote that Baker “has proposed a simple but potentially powerful first step: repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This provision prevents Internet sites, including Twitter and Facebook, from being sued for defamation, for false information that is posted on their platforms — either as ads or on the pages of individuals and groups (e.g., Facebook pages).”
Dean Baker co-founded CEPR in 1999. His areas of research include housing and macroeconomics, intellectual property, Social Security, Medicare and European labor markets. He is the author of several books, including Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer. His blog, “Beat the Press,” provides commentary on economic reporting. He received his B.A. from Swarthmore College and his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan. Baker previously worked as a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor at Bucknell University. He has also worked as a consultant for the World Bank, the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, and the OECD’s Trade Union Advisory Council.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives. Our Advisory Board includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow and Joseph Stiglitz; Janet Gornick, Professor at the CUNY Graduate School and Director of the Luxembourg Income Study; and Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University.