News & Politics

Jesse Kelly Is Back, but the Plague of Twitter's Vague Rules Remains

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

In a rare capitulation during its recent purge of what it deems conservative wrongthink, Twitter reversed its decision to permanently ban conservative radio host and commentator Jesse Kelly.

The reversal was surprising, but Twitter’s explanation was bizarre:

Twitter had told Kelly that his account was permanently suspended in the one communication they had with him after the suspension. The explanation was not only strange because it was easy to prove false, but because Twitter offered one at all.

A hallmark of Twitter’s war on conservatives is that it hasn’t offered anything in the way of clarity whenever it suspends or restricts accounts. I was suddenly locked out of my account by Twitter for several days last May and never found out why. While the people who are permanently suspended receive a notice, I never found out anything, despite repeated attempts by me and others in the media to contact various Twitter higher-ups for an explanation.

I agree with Treacher: Twitter can do whatever the hell it wants because it’s privately held and I am not paying for it. However, Twitter didn’t make Jack Dorsey and his pals filthy rich in a vacuum. It was we — the free users — who did that. In fact, conservatives probably did more to help Twitter’s growth spurt that took it from being a curiosity to the mainstream than liberals did. I suspect that Dorsey knows that and it galls him, which fuels his impulse to be unfair to us.

There are many of us on the right who have been using Twitter so long that it has become an integral part of marketing our personal brands. Kelly explained why and how he uses it:

“The truth is, I understand how sensitive Twitter is. I understand that they are run by leftists, and they’re trying to run off people on the right, so knowing that, I’m fairly careful with it,” he said.

“Especially because it was a big tool I used to promote my show, to promote things that I had written,” said Kelly, who hosts a radio show in Houston. “So I wasn’t trying to get kicked off, I was trying to be good, and I got kicked off anyway.”

Many of us in entertainment and media have grown used to having Twitter serve as our publicist. I am more than willing to play by its rules to continue doing so. The problem is that Twitter isn’t at all forthcoming about how it interprets those rules to determine suspensions or willing to explain exactly which rules have been violated when punishment is handed down. It’s like dating a woman who is always mad at you but only says, “You should know…” whenever you ask what’s wrong.

Dorsey was rather coy about his approach to dealing with conservative voices until he was questioned by Congress in September. Kelly’s suspension has sparked interest in reviewing some of Dorsey’s testimony to see if he lied. It’s all “chicken or the egg” stuff because Twitter keeps a lid on its methodology regarding suspensions, but perhaps the scrutiny is the reason that Kelly’s account was reinstated.

It is a sad day when one runs up against someone so loathsome that he makes one root for Congress.