Twitter Has A Rules Problem And They Know It

The appeals process is mysterious and stupid

I created my Twitter account, @OsborneInk, in August of 2009 hoping to promote a blog that no longer exists. Back then, I got involved in progressive activism, both online and in the real world, and while I never claimed to be a journalist, I confess that I did commit occasional acts of journalism until 2017. During that time, my Twitter account received countless harassing false reports, including one bizarre incident from avowed leftists that sent the FBI to me in search of answers. I was also sued over Tweets by a right wing conspiracy goober in Maryland.

Those were stupid times, but this is stupider.

After some time spent advising in the digital trenches, my involvement in liberal/leftish political activism only ended in November 2020, whereupon the rules of Twitter suddenly seemed to change.

“The right side of history” feels empowered to commit crimes now, and the narcissism of small differences will place someone like me among the very first targets of the resulting censorship by an ever-more radical left. I had figured this would eventually happen when I emerged as “gender-critical,” and in December 2020 it suddenly did.

To be clear, the above tweet is a response to someone who was asking how to smoke marijuana. A third party apparently saw this and reported it as “abuse and harassment,” which is only true if you believe in reefer madness.

Twitter allowed me to “appeal” this decision, which is a joke on two fronts: (1) it takes weeks for them to respond, a time during which you are effectively silenced, and (2) the process seems to involve an algorithm, or someone unfamiliar with idiomatic English, or perhaps a poo-flinging monkey as final judge and arbiter of the rules, because Twitter upheld the above strike on the account.

This was not about to silence me. Quite the contrary: I was quite content to have Twitter “arrest” my account for gender wrongthink, and remain very happy for Twitter to do so, on whatever tendentious grounds any member of the rainbow brigade wishes to cite. So in January, I took a shot at British trans activist and vexatious litigant Stephanie Hayden knowing full well that it might have consequences.

Would Jack Dorsey punish me for mentioning that Hayden, a trans-identified male, has a prostate? I wanted to know, and so I found out the answer is yes.

What I did not expect was to receive this final, third strike on February 25th. As you can see, the supposed “hateful conduct” here is simply words that someone hated to read.

So I appealed, more than once, and waited. Twitter would promise to get back to me, and I would wait a bit and then appeal again. This went on for close to two months, when suddenly, unexpectedly, like Lazarus from the tomb, the account was restored to life:

Not everyone is so lucky. Helen Staniland, who committed the crime of asking people a sensible question, has not had her account restored. Thousands of gender heretics like her have been permanently silenced on Twitter, where the male ego of a “trans woman” is more precious than any woman’s right to speak.

Now, I might suggest that Twitter changed their minds because I am not female; however that does not seem to be the case. Repeating my formula of appealing over and over, a longtime Twitter friend suspended more than a year ago was finally able to get an answer last week: “no, you are guilty of targeted abuse, but we won’t tell you who you abused, or how.”

Twitter’s reporting system is broken and they know it. Their appeal system is opaque and stupid and they know it. Facebook at least has its new content oversight board. Twitter is a microblogging monopoly that doesn’t even pretend to apply the same rules to everyone, exhibits clear political bias, and has no check whatsoever on its caprices.

About the author

Former progressive activist declared heretic by his former movement for refusing to believe that "woman" is a costume or a feeling and recognizing male pattern behavior as male even when it wears lipstick and high heels. Just because you hate something I say does not make it hate speech.
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