In case you missed it, mine was one of the more recent conservative accounts targeted by Twitter. As I have explained to many people who don’t understand why this is a problem for me, Twitter is part of an overall promotion strategy of mine, so it’s business. In fact, it is a promotional vehicle for most center-right and conservative writers, so anyone interested in having free speech be something more than just a luxury for the left should be concerned.
I have availed myself of what little recourse Twitter offers one who has an account suspended or restricted. As I haven’t received so much as an aut0reply I am left with nothing but inference to determine which, if any, rule I violated.
What I have inferred so far is that I didn’t run afoul of anything and Twitter is just testing out new ways to chase the conservatives away without looking too Stalin-esque. That all that is happening to my account began less than twenty-four hours after I wrote a post critical of Twitter’s application of their rules makes the whole affair start to get a stinky fish smell.
In the past year or so the most common complaint conservatives have had about Twitter is that they are being “shadowbanned,” which is stealthy, insidious censorship. When an account is shadowbanned, Twitter is either limiting the visibility of that account’s tweets, or not letting them be seen at all. Twitter doesn’t inform the account that this is happening. It’s mini-fascism, but it’s fascism nonetheless. At least a social media version.
My account was “restricted” for several days. I could log into it and see all of the activity but I couldn’t tweet. During that time, Twitter wiped out all of the people I was following. Please note that I’m talking about the people I was following, not my followers. That’s been causing some confusion when I try to tweet about it, and the difference is essential as far as explaining what Twitter is up to.
Following and Followers counts often go haywire when Twitter suspends or restricts an account. As with everything involved in this process, Twitter is less than helpful. Anecdotally, I’ve read and heard about this happening to others, and the numbers are usually restored to normal within a day or so. It has now been eight days since I was restricted and a little over four days since my access was restored.
As a result of people showing everyone that I am not following anyone, people are beginning to unfollow me. There are apps that people use to regularly purge people who they are following but who don’t follow back. I was doing that the night before I was restricted. As of now, I am down almost three thousand followers from last week.
I have (for the moment, anyway) over 200 thousand followers, so I can afford to take a temporary hit. The problem is that I have no guarantee that this will be temporary. A three thousand followers a week attrition rate will negatively impact my business rather quickly.
Many have asked why I don’t just simply follow back everyone that Twitter wiped out. The first reason is that Twitter should fix what they broke.
The second reason is that I followed over 100 thousand accounts. Even if I could remember all of them, it would take me months to do so, as Twitter only allows you to follow a thousand accounts per day.
While Twitter is incredibly important to my writing endeavors, it is even more critical to my stand-up work. Social media plays the role of publicist for many in the entertainment industry. That is why I’ve worked hard to build and maintain a Twitter presence. Publicity is key, and Twitter is free publicity, which makes it all the more important for entertainers. As I mentioned in the previous post, bookers almost always want to know how many Twitter followers I have.
A big part of maintaining that presence involves my personality on Twitter (which, by the way, isn’t entirely representative of my real personality), and that’s taking a hit here too. While I believe it is important for more than just myself that I keep calling out Twitter and its CEO Jack Dorsey, I know that it’s getting tedious for everyone else. Heck, it’s getting tedious for me. I would have preferred to not write about this at length today, but I believe it’s imperative that conservatives not roll over for the social media giants when they target us like this.
I am willing to keep taking a hit in an effort to maybe squeeze a little transparency or honesty from Dorsey and Twitter.
The most frustrating aspect of all is the lack of communication. If the goal is to create a better overall experience on the site, then it would make sense to tell people who have had their accounts restricted exactly why it happened so the problem could be avoided in the future.
The fact that they don’t do so really heightens the perception that it isn’t about anything other than punitively targeting accounts that don’t fit in with the hive mind. The appearance of deliberate censorship could be gotten rid of with a bare amount of transparency and communication from Twitter. That, sadly, does not seem to be a priority.
The bitter irony is that conservatives were integral to helping build Twitter before it was a lot of celebrity-driven nonsense. In the early Obama/Tea Party years, we were the ones who were exhorting people to join so we could communicate and share information. It was a serious resource for us (I flew all over the country speaking on the subject) and we were doing this at a time when most people still thought Twitter was only a place to tell everyone what you were having for lunch.
It is difficult for me to imagine that Dorsey isn’t aware of this.
Perhaps he’s horrified by that truth and just wants to bury it.
Again, all I can do is infer.