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November 27, 2018

JACK SHAFER: The Conservative Revolt Against Twitter. “Wake me up when this sad little uprising is over.”

“Twitter’s gone crazy banning people on the right, so I’ve deactivated my Twitter account,” he wrote in his Instapundit blog on Sunday night. Calling Twitter “the most socially destructive of the various platforms,” Reynolds accused the “crappy SJW types” – social justice warriors – who run it of breaking promises to users and stifling free speech. “So I decided to suspend them, as they are suspending others,” Reynold wrote.

Seeing as we don’t yet know why Twitter banned Kelly, there is some murk to the dispute. But no matter what the underlying cause, the ban gives conservatives cause to believe that Twitter has singled them out for eviction. Earlier this month, Twitter gave the permanent boot to Laura Loomer, a conservative writer and agent provocateur. Other conservatives or far-right figures Twitter has banned or suspended include Roger Stone, Chuck Johnson, “Sabo,” Milo Yiannopoulos, James Allsup, Richard Spencer, David Duke, “Baked Alaska,” Robert Stacy McCain, Candace Owens, David Clarke, Gavin McInnes and James Woods. In an August piece in the Federalist, Kelly predicted that the banishment of Alex Jones from Facebook presaged the de-conservatization of social media. “They just knew Jones was the weak member of the herd. They could pick him off as a test run. Next they’re coming for you,” Kelly wrote.

Kelly’s slippery slope argument sounds ominous, but how much truth is there to it? My Twitter experience account would say otherwise.

Here’s a question Shafer should have asked early on, and which might have resulted in a much different piece: Why don’t we know why Twitter banned Kelly?

Or as Ben Domenech wrote last night in a multipart tweet:

Jack Shafer’s piece unintentionally illustrates why his suggestion for conservatives on Twitter utterly misses the point.

Shafer suggests conservatives ought to “Drive Twitter insane by playing by their rules, expressing yourself right up to the boundary-line of the company’s standards in a way that will invite inspection and self-criticism of those standards.” That is exactly what Jesse Kelly did! We know that because in the two years since he was verified he received not a single suspension or even a warning. Jesse Kelly engaged in iconoclasm and teased without threatening people or violating any rules. If he had, Twitter would’ve gone after him for it. Instead, his lack of a clear violation clearly caused frustration – so at the end of the day, they just pulled the plug on him, permanently, without justifying it under any rule or citing any activity whatsoever.

That is because of something Shafer either doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to acknowledge: that for Twitter, there are no rules.

My take is that Shafer was in such a hurry to condemn Glenn’s self-removal from Twitter as “sad,” that he missed the real story.

Or if you’d like an even shorter take on Shafer’s latest for Politico: Fake news.