In the past few weeks, several conservatives have had their Twitter accounts suspended or “de-verified” — the blue checkmark next to their account name signifying Twitter’s verification of identity has been removed.
On Friday night, conservative writer and blogger Robert Stacy McCain discovered that his account had been suspended. No explanation was forthcoming from Twitter and no specific example of “abuse or harassment” was cited.
In early January, Twitter stripped Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos of his posting privileges. And the de-verified conservatives who have recently been punished by Twitter include prominent author and writer John Podhoretz. (Note: John’s account was reverified this morning.)
These actions by Twitter are thought to have originated with their new “Trust and Safety Council” — a group of handpicked Twitter users who have been tasked with overseeing the platform and going after the abusers and harassers, as well as those they consider “haters.”
Robby Soave at Reason has a dim view of this group:
Remember a few days ago, when Twitter elevated anti-GamerGate leader Anita Sarkeesian to its “Trust and Safety Council,” an imperious-sounding committee with Robespierre-esque powers to police discussion on the social media platform? The goal, according to Twitter, was to make it easier for users to express themselves freely and safely.
One user who won’t be expressing himself at all is Robert Stacy McCain: a conservative journalist, blogger, self-described anti-feminist, and prominent GamerGate figure who was banned from Twitter on Friday night. Clicking on his page redirects to this “account suspended” message that encourages users to re-read Twitter’s policies on abusive behavior.
But as with other Twitter suspensions, it’s impossible to tell which specific policy McCain is accused of violating, or which of his tweets were flagged as abusive. McCain is an animated and uncompromising opponent of leftist views. His statements are extreme, and I don’t often agree with them, but I would be reluctant to label them as abusive (at least the ones I’ve seen).
In a response to his banning that is in many ways emblematic of his worldview and behavior, McCain explicitly blamed Sarkeesian and her crew:
This is why you can’t even state FACTS about these people on Twitter without being accused of “harassment.” Facts are harassment and truth is hate and Oceania Has Always Been at War With Eastasia. Sarkesian is anti-freedom because she is anti-truth. She and her little squad of soi-disant “feminists” are just hustlers looking for a free ride, and the only way they can get that ride is to silence anyone who speaks the truth about them and calls them out as the cheap bullshit artists they actually are.
McCain did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He concluded the above post with a statement, “fuck ‘social justice’.” He despises leftists and feminists, and doesn’t hold back his hate.
But there’s a difference between using strong language to disagree with people, and abusing them. If McCain has crossed that line, I’m not aware of it.
In a truly Orwellian twist, Twitter also suppressed a McCain-supporting hashtag: #freestacy. Twitter has officially “disappeared” McCain and there is no appeal.
In truth, we’ve only heard from one side in this dispute. And if someone knows of a liberal figure who has had their account suspended, I’d certainly like to hear it.
But after searching on Google for several minutes, I couldn’t find a single complaint from a liberal who had their account killed. Considering the viciousness and abuse of liberal trolls that’s at least as bad as some conservatives, it would be reasonable to conclude that Twitter is being extremely subjective and partisan in defining “abuse.”
In the end, this is counterproductive. Twitter could potentially lose millions of users if conservatives decide to take their chat elsewhere. Somehow, though, the “Ministry of Truth” will find a way to continue its jihad against the right, policing speech as it sees fit.