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08/15/2018 / By Isabelle Z.
Yesterday, Twitter unveiled its plans to ban accounts that it claims are trying to evade suspension, but there is something that doesn’t quite add up about their approach. In fact, it could see accounts that haven’t done anything wrong getting suspended anyway. Is that what they intended all along?
A tweet posted to the official Twitter Safety account read:
“This week, we are suspending accounts for attempting to evade an account suspension. These accounts were previously suspended for abusive behavior or evading a previous suspension, and are not allowed to continue using Twitter.”
What this appears to mean is that they’re cracking down on the accounts that they believe belong to users who were previously suspended on the platform under different accounts. While it may sound reasonable that they wish to enforce a ban – even though these bans are often unreasonable in first place – it’s not clear how they plan to identify that an account actually belongs to a person who was previously banned.
What about those users whose accounts were suspended unfairly for political reasons but still wish to use the platform, say, for business? If they set up new accounts under different names and aren’t breaking any rules or discussing controversial topics, it’s interesting that Twitter is putting so much effort into finding them and shutting them down.
CEO Jack Dorsey took a lot of flak last week when he said the platform wouldn’t be banning controversial right-wing host Alex Jones as many other social media platforms did. There appears to be an angry mob mentality directed toward Jones among the left-leaning tech world. Many of Twitter’s own employees stated publicly that they had a problem with Dorsey’s belief that Jones shouldn’t be banned because he didn’t break any rules.
Do this move and his promised changes to the existing rules mean that he has changed his stance? If so, it’s bad news for everybody. Former U.K. Independence party leader Nigel Farage summed up where all this could lead quite nicely when he wrote: “And while many on the libertarian right and within the conservative movement have their issues with Alex Jones and InfoWars, this week’s announcement by YouTube, Facebook, Apple, and Spotify represents a concerted effort of proscription and censorship that could just as soon see any of us confined to the dustbin of social media history.”
Twitter appears to be on the road to confining conservative voices to this social media history dustbin as it reserves the right to suspend the accounts of people simply because it believes they might be past account holders who were suspended. This gives them yet another excuse to censor someone while claiming to be following their “rules.” Right now, they use information such as an individual’s phone number, email address, and IP address to check whether banned users are attempting to create new accounts. They have declined to explain what method they plan to use moving forward.
The company has said that the new wave of suspensions will be issued this week and in the weeks to come as it identifies people who are “attempting to tweet following an account suspension.” Last month, it was reported that Twitter suspended up to 70 million accounts in May and June alone and was on pace to match this in July.
Twitter is looking rather desperate as it tries to improve its public image and hold on to users. In the second quarter of this year, they lost 1 million monthly active users and their numbers have been stagnating. The way they handle people exercising their right to free speech could see people continuing to leave the platform in droves in the months and years to come.
Sources for this article include:
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