Scott Tibbs

Twitter bans memes under false pretenses

By Scott Tibbs, August 12, 2019

I looked at Twitter the morning of August 3 to see someone complaining that he had been suspended from Twitter for 12 hours for posting a meme about voter ID. The meme included a picture of former (current?) KGB thug Vladimir Putin with the text "Donít Let Russia Interfere in 2020. #DemandVoterID." I tend to be skeptical of these claims. Surely this is an exaggeration, I thought, and the people who were suspended had previously posted content that had caught the attention of the Twitter moderation team. So I saved the meme, uploaded it, and... was instantaneously suspended for 12 hours.

No moderator looked at the meme and determined it was objectionable. Twitter immediately suspended my account for 12 hours with no due process whatsoever. I appealed the decision and was informed that I was suspended because the meme was "providing false information about voting or registering to vote."

This is not just laughable. It is an outright lie. Look, if Twitter wants to ban this meme because Jack Dorsey does not like it, fine. They are a private corporation and I am a guest on the platform. It is stupid and childish, but it is their right. But falsely claiming that the meme provides "false information about voting" is morally bankrupt. Instead of just being honest, Twitter pretends to be enforcing a set of incomprehensible so-called "rules" that seem to always fall on conservatives. Outside of things like doxxing and threats, Twitter's rules are intentionally opaque. No one knows what is allowed and not allowed.

We should be clear: Twitter is engaged in open election interference - silencing harmless memes to skew the public debate in a more liberal direction. This kind of nonsense is exactly why many conservatives and the Trump administration are looking at regulating social media, including making platform access a "civil right." I oppose this policy, but if Twitter wants to avoid the heavy hand of the state this censorship needs to stop. Twitter's heavy-handed censorship and flagrant dishonesty about the reasons for it are turning a lot of people against them and provoking conservative lawmakers to "do something" about it.

If and when that happens, Twitter will only have itself to blame.

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