As one of the largest social networking platforms, Twitter boasts over 300,000 monthly active users. Its self-described mission is to “give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.”
“Without barriers” seems to be a fluid concept in the halls at Twitter headquarters, however.
Twitter regularly censors its users in the interest of what it claims is preventing abuse and promoting civil dialogue. But more often than not, that censorship seems to come down on the heads of conservatives and those expressing politically incorrect views. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey insists that is “absolutely not” the case, but these 7 instances tell a different story.
That time Twitter just couldn’t find ‘#GayForTrump.’
In the summer of 2016, Twitter users reported that the popular hashtag #GayForTrump was censored from auto-complete. When individuals typed the phrase into Twitter’s search box nothing appeared, despite the fact that hundreds — if not thousands — of users were using the hashtag.
That time Twitter may have censored an anti-Hillary hashtag.
In February of 2016, users complained that the anti-Hillary Clinton hashtag #WhichHillary was being censored. The phrase surfaced after a 23 year-old activist stormed a fundraising event with posters from Clinton’s decade old ‘super predators’ speech. The hashtag was intended to point out the nominee’s flip-flops on issues over the years. However, despite being used over 65,000 times on Twitter, the term was kept off the site’s top trending list, while the less popular #FlashbackFriday secured a spot.
That time Twitter’s double standard appeared in black and white.
Heat Street previously reported on this, but it’s just too good to leave out. Conservative writer Kassy Dillon was temporarily suspended from Twitter for posting the following:
Dillion was responding to (or rather mocking) a Tweet by Leslie Jones, who was able to maintain her posting privileges.
@DolphinToucher and you and your friends are bigots.If you don't like me why the fuck do you watch let alone contact me. Kill yourself bigot
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) March 8, 2015
Whatever one’s politics, it’s really hard not to see a double standard there.
That time Twitter suspended someone without much in the way of explanation.
In February of 2016, conservative journalist Robert Stacy McCain’s Twitter account was inexplicably suspended, as was the @SexTroubleBook he created in response. When McCain, who has been criticized for his anti-feminist views (among other non-PC tendencies), asked the social media platform why he was barred, the site explained that he had violated “rules around participating in targeted abuse.” Got that?
That other time Twitter banned someone for dubious reasons.
Adam Baldwin, a Hollywood actor best known for starring in The Last Ship, made his fair share of social media enemies when he coined the now popular, seemingly anti-feminist #GamerGate hashtag. Baldwin has been a harsh critic of Twitter’s censorship and even sat down with Heat Street to explain his views. His came upon those views following a run-in with Twitter when his account was inexplicably locked until he deleted a post in which he called GamerGate advocates “much more attractive and joyous” than their opposition.
That time(s) Twitter ‘shadowbanned.’
Another sly tactic Twitter seems to be implementing to keep non PC or ultra-conservative views out of the spotlight is ‘shadowbanning.’ Shadowbanning is a form of censorship that aims to tamp down certain Tweets by hiding them from a user’s public profile. Several users have complained about it. Even GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has fallen victim. According to a Breitbart report, Trump posted a Tweet that included the message, “the establishment and special interests are absolutely killing our country.” The comment was hidden from his timeline, but remained visible via a direct link so was not permanently deleted from the platform. What’s up with that?
That time you’ve probably already heard about.
Conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter in July 2016 for violating the platform’s “hateful conduct policy” by encouraging his followers to heap scorn on Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones. Milo responded to the ban by stating: “This is the end for Twitter. Anyone who cares about free speech has been sent a clear message: you’re not welcome on Twitter.” He garnered no small amount of support for his cause. The #FreeMilo hashtag broke into the top trending list not long afterward.