Twitter Done F*cked Up Again
Totally expected news about the website we all love to hate and hate to love! Twitter, in its Going-Very-Poorly quest to root out Nazis and white nationalists spewing hate on the platform, has totally by accident (DOH!) suspended the account of David Neiwert, one of America's greatest and most brilliant experts on right-wing extremism. And what did Dave do? Did he reveal that his entire career has been one long-running practical joke, and that actually he is a Nazi hate dork? No, it was not that!
It was that his profile picture is the cover of the book he wrote in 2017, Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. Lookit:
Oh no, it has Klan hoods in it, because it's a book about ... the Klan, among other hate groups! And because Twitter is not apparently using any form of intelligence in sussing out which ones are the Nazis and which ones are the investigative reporters and researchers informing America about the rise of eliminationist hate groups, then SUX 4 DAVE. Maybe he can clean out the garage until Twitter gets around to figuring out where it all went wrong.
Neiwert wrote about what happened over at Daily Kos:
Well, I already knew that Twitter can be unbelievably stupid when it comes to handling removal and suspension of the accounts of journalists who cover the radical Right. I just had no idea it was this stupid. [...]
When I awoke this morning and logged in to Twitter, it informed me that the image violated Twitter rules and that I would have to take it down before I could access my account. I replied to them:
"My account was suspended because of the photo of the cover of my book in my profile. This book, 'Alt-America,' is a history of the rise of the radical right in the United States over the past 30 years. It naturally has an illustration featuring KKK hoods because that is its subject. I am one of the nation's leading experts on this subject, and it is insane that you would suspend my account because of this photo. I refuse to remove it on principle."
As well he should not.
If you haven't been reading Neiwert's work over the last umpteen years, you have been missing out. We first found him way back in the olden timey days at his blog Orcinus, which is still going. You might have also seen him at Crooks & Liars and contributing to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and, oh we don't know, a million other fucking places. It's not like Twitter can really say, "Oh, we got confused!" They could have Googled him. Hell, they might even be able to learn a thing or two from him, since he's written extensively on tech companies' ongoing bumblefucking difficulties in figuring out how to delete hate from their platforms and how that intersects with his own work. (Waaaaaaah, if we design algorithms to ban all Nazis, it's going to accidentally ban dozens of congressional Republicans from Twitter, waaaaaaaaaah! You know, because that's Twitter's problem, and not the GOP's problem.)
But oh well, anyway!
As Neiwert notes at Daily Kos, Michael Edison Hayden from the SPLC got suspended from Twitter in April, for posting this tweet:
Oh heavens! Expert on hate groups notes that white power symbol at fire that burned down a civil rights center is connected with a Romanian fascist group that slaughtered Jews. Also the Christchurch shooter was into that symbol! LOCK THE HATE GROUP EXPERT UP! IN TWITTER JAIL!
As Hayden noted at the time, what most likely happened is that tons of white supremacists reported him to Twitter en masse, because they wanted to silence him. And who is Twitter to assess whether those white supremacists were acting in good faith or not? What happened to Neiwert was probably something similar. And Twitter did apologize to Hayden, eventually, and restored his account. Hopefully that will happen to David Neiwert as well. You know, unless it has to wait until tomorrow, because @Jack has another important meeting at the White House so Donald Trump can bitch and moan about his follower count going down.
But why the fuck should all this happen in the first place?
We keep hearing from Twitter that it's about to think about hiring a focus group to research whether it should commission a study to decide if it should design a new verification system, in order to somehow, someday, deal with its little Nazi problem. Hell, they suspended their official verification program over a year ago because of all those blue checkmark Nazis, and they allegedly have been thinking about figuring out how to bring it back and make it better ever since.
In related news, Twitter also locked up God today. No, not Mike Pence's God. (If that guy started pulling some of the shit on Twitter that He allegedly did the Bible, we might understand!) Instead they locked up funny Twitter God that errrrbody follows, for being nice to gays:
Jesus Christ, Twitter. We know you're trying. We believe you.
Oh well, Twitter will probably suspend our account for writing about Twitter fucking up, and for using the picture of Dave Neiwert's book to illustrate how it fucked up. Or, you know, they could FINALLY VERIFY US LIKE WE'VE BEEN ASKING, SO WE DON'T HAVE TO PERMA-MUTE EVERYBODY WHO DOESN'T FOLLOW US, IN ORDER TO AVOID THE HATE TROLLS AND DEATH THREAT-ERS WHO SOMEHOW HAVE NOT BEEN BANNED BY THE PLATFORM.
We are just saying. Fix your shit, Twitter.
Also, Steve King's Nazi Twitter is still up and running, so ... there's that.
And now what's that? IT IS! OPEN THREAD!
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