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Is Twitter Silencing Conservatives?

Is Twitter Silencing Conservatives?

A trend or just coincidence?

Twitter, an invaluable news aggregator when properly run and used, has seemingly taken aim at conservatives and those advocating conservative causes.

In early January, Twitter stripped Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero on Twitter) of his “verification,” saying he violated the anti-harassment Terms of Service.

https://twitter.com/Nero/status/685601754654871552

A verified account means the user has a little blue checkmark next to his or her user name.  It is Twitter’s way of affirming to all other users that this is, in fact, the person he or she claims to be. It sounds like a small thing, but Twitter, like so much social media, is rife with accounts purporting to be or that just look like a real public figure.

That verification checkmark tells all the other users that a particular account is the real thing.  Having a verified account can be a big draw and boost followers who are otherwise reluctant to be suckered or drawn in by fakes.  Stripping verification takes that mark of legitimacy away. It is also a sort of peculiar way to punish violations of terms of service.  Assuming @Nero actually violated the terms of service, is the account somehow no longer Yiannopoulos’s?

Of course not. More important, it is not at all obvious that @Nero violated the terms of service at all.  Stipulate that he is a troll who relishes destroying the Left’s sacred cows and laughs at the resulting discomfiture.  Stipulate even that it’s really not nice and consciously deprives people of their “safe spaces.” So what?  Five minutes on twitter reveals death threats by and against every possible demographic.  Terror accounts proliferate.  Anti-Semitism is rampant.

Leaving these accounts untouched but de-verifying a public figure like @Nero for violating the Terms of Service in the course of his public persona is nonsensical. Other Twitter methods for stifling anti-PC thought have come to light.

Yiannopoulos reported this week:

Rumours that Twitter has begun ‘shadowbanning’ politically inconvenient users have been confirmed by a source inside the company, who spoke exclusively to Breitbart Tech. His claim was corroborated by a senior editor at a major publisher.

According to the source, Twitter maintains a ‘whitelist’ of favoured Twitter accounts and a ‘blacklist’ of unfavoured accounts. Accounts on the whitelist are prioritised in search results, even if they’re not the most popular among users. Meanwhile, accounts on the blacklist have their posts hidden from both search results and other users’ timelines.

Our source was backed up by a senior editor at a major digital publisher, who told Breitbart that Twitter told him it deliberately whitelists and blacklists users. He added that he was afraid of the site’s power, noting that his tweets could disappear from users’ timelines if he got on the wrong side of the company.

Shadowbanning, sometimes known as “Stealth Banning” or “Hell Banning,” is commonly used by online community managers to block content posted by spammers. Instead of banning a user directly (which would alert the spammer to their status, prompting them to create a new account), their content is merely hidden from public view. . .

However, Twitter isn’t merely targeting spammers. For weeks, users have been reporting that tweets from populist conservatives, members of the alternative right, cultural libertarians, and other anti-PC dissidents have disappeared from their timelines.

Earlier this month, Twitter instituted a “Trust and Safety Council.”  According to Ricochet:

This troubling news [about shadow banning] comes shortly after Twitter leadership announced an Orwellian “Trust and Safety Council,” which is stacked with leftist anti-speech activists. Instead of groups like the Electronic Freedom Foundation or the Cato Institute, the council invited Feminist Frequency and the Dangerous Speech Project. The latter organizations lead the growing movement to silence politically incorrect thought on campuses and online.

Just last night, Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) had his account suspended.

McCain is a conservative blogger who has keyed on the decline of campus culture generally and in particular due process for defendants in campus sexual assault allegations.  He is also a vocal critic of Twitter’s de-verification of @Nero’s account.

Taken together this paints a concerning picture.  The Trust and Safety Council is a dressed up censorship board and will provide cover if and when Twitter shutting down or diminishing disfavored accounts.

UPDATE: Robert Stacy McCain responds to the suspension of his Twitter account, The #FreeStacy Story: Why Was My @rsmccain Account Suspended?

UPDATE 2: Commentary Editor John Podhoretz (@JPodhoretz) reports that he has also lost his little blue verification mark.

Follow Jonathan Levin on Twitter @JNLevin

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Comments

So, Twitter is corrupted by PC politics. No big surprise. Most tech companies lean left.

Are there any decent alternatives for the conservatively-inclined?

    Check this place out

    https://freezepeach.xyz

    Same thing as twitter but dedicated to total free speech. The creators does not care if feelings are hurt, he says to use the block feature instead.

    Spread the word

    mike herman in reply to MacsenMcBain. | February 20, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    The Indianapolis Star, a formerly conservative newspaper, now does the same thing to conservative commenters. Incorrect thought is banned from their comment section. Since the USA Today takeover, they are not very tolerant of non-liberal thought.

    TravisBickle in reply to MacsenMcBain. | February 20, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    http://therightstuff.biz Is pretty good.

    Podhoretz banned? Simply amazing, how brazen and foolish Twitter censors have become in such a short time.

    I guess its no suprise- the trend has been obvious if you are paying attention- FakeBook and Google supporting Chinese censorship, the Google Geeks helping Obama twist the news in 2012, in exchange for getting former NAS Alameda as their private airport. Taxpayer supported Nudge Team run by the infamous Cass Sunstein, the Journolistas doubling down, again, both in the pathetically obvious paid for faux news to the script being “traded up the chain” (read Puffho’s Ryan Halliday or Sheryl Atkisson CBS).

    This is both a yellow stain on true news reporting, and another example of the corporatist class running amok- this time on the Left. The Evil Twins, Zuckerberg, and the rest of the Dark Enlightenment Class in Silicon Valley will go down in history books as the equivalent of the 19th century robber barons.

Twitter isn’t a free speech zone. It’s better than Facebook and Reddit for speech now, but you aren’t totally free to speak your mind.

Recently, they’ve started to mess with everybody’s timeline and also to shadow ban posts and/or users. Shadow banning is where users can post something, but other users cannot see their posts.

The deck is stacked against the right too. Notorious attention seeking feminist Anita Sarkeesian has been given input on how Twitter will deal with people. She’s most famous for raising tons of money on kick starter to produce videos that she never made, then crying sexism when she got criticized. Recently she successfully helped Jessie Jackson shake down Intel.

Twitter has recently bragged in the news about how their banning of ISIS accounts has limited the reach of ISIS. So, it is not a surprise that corrupt individuals would try to use this demonstrated power at home too.

Twitter is great for news. It’s great for rhetoric.

But on any social media there exists a large class of social justice warriors who wish to weaponize gossip and they ought to be stopped, not catered too.

    rotten in reply to rotten. | February 20, 2016 at 11:26 am

    The twitter user I used to follow got banned for retweeting a shocking photo and saying he was offended by it. The original tweeter of the photo was not banned.

This happens every Federal Election Cycle.

Perhaps Trump should acquire a majority stock in Twitter and turn the tables.

    We hope he will say something. It’s his followers who are getting banned, and his twitter account is one of the most followed most entertaining accounts on the service.

    As sweet as that might sound, I don’t want Trump or anybody else restricting free speech (with a narrowly defined exception for sexual exploitation of children). The slippery slope is incredibly steep.

    Besides, that Amnesty worm Zuckerberg could buy Trump out several times over. Yikes!

    PS: Kudos to LI for its avoidance of the ban hammer, despite my occasional desire to punch certain commenters right inna nose. 🙂 I’m sure the feeling is mutual.

So, as soon as I confirmed that Twitter is quashing conservative conversation, I deleted my accounts. Screw them. They can have debates with themselves about topics they are all in agreement on.

    RandomCrank in reply to Blurf. | February 20, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    I’ve tried to deactivate my account three times in the last hour, and keep getting the following response: “403 Forbidden: The server understood the request, but is refusing to fulfill it.”

      They WANT you, RC! Maybe they’re an extension of the Hotel California.

        RandomCrank in reply to meyou. | February 20, 2016 at 7:15 pm

        As a corporate entity, Twitter is in trouble. They probably want to make it hard — even impossible — to quit, as a way of keeping their numbers up and thereby supporting their stock price and advertising profile.

With big government “educating” our children, and both government and big business strangling free speech with ever-increasing vigor, it is hard to feel optimistic that things will turn out well for our once-great America.

“Follow Jonathan Levin on Twitter @JNLevin”

Sure, while you still can!

Stories of Twitter shutting down Conservatives while encouraging Liberals are at least a couple of years old. Facebook gets the same complaint. Hilariously, every once in a while there will be a study claiming that the prevalence of leftist speech on social media proves that those on the right are stupid, uneducated and unable to deal with the modern world.

The echo chamber requires your obedience!

An excellent reason for articles here to avoid using Twitter. Some of LI’s writers include several Twitter posts. One…. this makes the article a pain to load and Two….. if I wanted to read Twitter, I would go to Twitter and read it. This is LI, not Twitter.

Stop feeding the opposition. Paraphrase if necessary to the core of the article but don’t give them hits.

I got suspended twice (May & Aug 2014) and they refused to tell me why in both cases. Two weeks ago my tweets weren’t in search results for a day, and yesterday they took them out of search results again. In all those cases I can’t identify one specific tweet or series of tweets that would have triggered anything: I tend to do the same thing all the time. That might be part of Twitter’s plan: be arbitrary so people are scared of doing the “wrong” thing.

In any case, the solution isn’t to run away. It’s to continue to try to engage and to marginalize the SJW types. You do that by having as broad an opposition to the SJW types as possible. Anti-SJW is larger than conservatives, Trump/Cruz supporters, etc. Also, I created a service that lets you contact your followers if you get suspended. It’s 100% compliant with Twitter rules and you can sign up for free at permrec.com/free100

The creators of tech are not all lefties.
Actually a lot of the core creators are either apolitical or right.
Brandon Eichs is one prominent example.

Just recently we are seeing the implosion of a site Github.
It is an interesting story. Two years and six months ago one Julie Ann Horvath went to work for the company. Her job was writing HTML/CSS. Mind you, serious programmers like me do not think of it as programming. You could never, for example, write a program like Excel in it.

In the end, her main contributions amounted to two things. The first was to get rid of a rug that looked like great seal and said “The Great Meritocracy of Github.” The second was to institute some talks about women in “programming”.

When she was leaving, apparently too many people were rejoicing, so she complained of sex harassment. An investigation followed. The conclusion. The accused executing was found not to have harassed her, but his wife was a bit overagressive in recruiting help for her nonprofit. So he resigned. That was two years ago.

Now the latest story:
http://www.businessinsider.com/github-the-full-inside-story-2016-2

The problem is that most of these places are created in California.
The builders may niot be lefties but the guys who take over are.

I am a maximum free speech guy. I don’t like censorship at all, no matter who does it. That said, unfortunately the Internet is full of censors, both right-wing and left-wing. It’s very discouraging.

    Except for the fact that conservatives have cut their teeth on arguments with lefties, while lefties are dependent upon not hearing or seeing anything conservative. IOW, hearing all sides makes us stronger and lefties weaker – because truth and the real world reinforce our views.

    Also, a majority of conservatives WERE lefties, and virtually no lefties were ever conservative. I was a lefty for 26 years.

      meyou in reply to peg_c. | February 20, 2016 at 6:09 pm

      Welcome home, Peg! One of my beloved heroes is David Horowitz, who was born and raised a Communist. If you’re not familiar with him, check out his history.

      RandomCrank in reply to peg_c. | February 20, 2016 at 7:19 pm

      I’m a reformed D myself, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before I call myself a R. Independence suits me. I’m embarrassed that it took so long.

        The Friendly Grizzly in reply to RandomCrank. | February 20, 2016 at 9:27 pm

        I came around when I was 26, and became a lower-case libertarian. Here it is, almost 41 years later, and I am more or less of the “leave me in peace, please” type. I understand there is need for rule and policy, just not so darn much of it.

Just wait until the left starts building camps for people who need to be ‘re-educated’. Deep down, you know they want to.

Scientific proof requires a scientific experiment: close your Twitter account. See what happens to Twitter when Conservatives, Republicans, Libertarians, middle-of-the-roaders, the luke-warm, and others say Adios.

This is an outcome of an election year, but other factors as well, including Muslims on raping and killing rampages all over a Europe apparently too sclerotic and weak to see what’s happening, much less fight it (so far), and America increasingly standing up to the threats from rampant immigration and general thug rampages. The Left doesn’t know what to do with itself except control all communication (which they very nearly do) and send off to virtual FEMA camps any communicators that disagree with them.

Liberals know they can’t win arguments if their ideas can be challenges with facts and logic. That’s why they must silence dissenting voices, just like the Brownshirts did in 1930s Nazi Germany.

Juanita Broaddricks Lip | February 20, 2016 at 6:29 pm

What’s Twitter?

[…] Linked by Darleen Click at Protein Wisdom, Legal Insurrection, Da Tech Guy Blog, Battleswarm, featured at Twitchy, Vox Day, now a Memeorandum thread and welcome, […]

EFF ’em, I never used TWATTER for this very reason…

Obviously I have no need to debate the actual hypocritical nature of this. It speaks for itself.

But has anyone actually challenged this in a court? The purpose of the Verified status is to show proof that you actually are who you claim to be. How is this fact changed by any circumstance? Its not a right or a privilege. In the example in the story, it either Milo or its not. How can Twitter justify in any way the removal of the verification? Is he suddenly NOT Milo?

Even for liberals, this logic is completely indefensible.

Eastwood Ravine | February 21, 2016 at 11:16 am

Better check to see if the people on the Trust and Safety Council are original members of the JournoList.

Yes. That was an easy question to answer.

I watched “A Man For All Seasons” on TV the other night. What impressed me most (well, other than Thomas More’s steadfastness-unto-death) was the ENORMOUS power of the King, and how that power lures sycophants into seeking the King’s favor despite the strictures of morality.

Replace “The King” with “The Government” and here we are, again, still, today.

The signal has been given from on high that such-and-such group is out-of-favor with The King/ This Administration, and all the toadies who want to bask in the reflected glow of POWER feel the urge to do whatever they can to castigate the out-group and claim kinship with (and favor from) the in-group.

Which is why the Founders established the division of powers of the Federal government and gave immense protections to the Press (supposing that news-gatherers would always seek to be the gadfly stinging the entrenched political bodies when they exceeded their roles).

Just like “NOOOOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!!”, the founders never expected that the private media would let themselves be co-opted by their desire to curry favor with Power. (Of course, they never expected that the Three Branches would agree to consolidate their separate powers, either.)

I have NO IDEA how to undo what has happened in this country.

Once it became “fine, swell, good” for the Supreme Court to see its role as “we must support the laws passed by Congress even if that requires an Orwellian redefinition of hitherto well-understood terms, and a (heh) “modern view” of the intent of the Constitution” a new precedent was set.

Once it became “perfectly understandable” that the President should seek to outflank Congress and unilaterally expand his powers and prerogatives (while Congress meekly acquiesced to having their powers unconstitutionally abrogated) another precedent was set.

And, once the Houses of Congress felt free to abandon their traditional powers and duties (eg: the establishment of alphabet-soup agencies whose regulations create de facto law, with no Congressional oversight; also, the Senate’s refusal to pass an annual budget for the last 6 (7?) years and the House’s abandonment of its power-of-the-purse by repeatedly passing Continuing Resolutions to keep the spending spree going) created still another precedent.

So now we’ve got Three Colluding Branches of FedGov, instead of Three Competing Branches. And further, we have layer-upon-layer of toadies and parasites and cronies and flatterers doing all they can to maintain and reinforce this power structure, so they can benefit from its gratitude. The interests of We-the-People are deemed “important” to this top-heavy Establishment only every two, four or six years, when they spew lie after lie to us to gain our votes. (The winners consider their elections a public-stamp-of-approval for them to collude, conspire, and grandstand while enriching themselves and grubbing for “influence” during their term of office.)

I know, I know: ” TL;DR “. And partially off-topic.

But … I despair.

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