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Twitter is targeting conservatives. Some would argue they always have, but things have changed in the past couple of weeks that should infuriate anyone who believes men are not women, migrant caravans are not harmless, or free speech should be allowable even on social media.
The pretense of being politically unbiased has been dropped based on Twitter’s actions. If you ask their press office, they’d never admit to it, but following a string of high-profile conservative suspensions and bannings, it’s clear they’re in the process of a purge.
Combat veteran Jesse Kelly, who hosts a radio show and is a regular contributor on The Federalist, was permanently banned from Twitter yesterday. At this point, nobody, including Kelly, seems to know why.
Once or twice and it could be a coincidence. But Laura Loomer, Michael Knowles, Candace Owens, Bruce Carroll, James Woods, Gavin McInnes, and other prominent conservative voices have been temporarily suspended or completely banned recently. Tucker Carlson and Fox News have stopped using the platform after Twitter refused to take down Tweets listing Carlson’s home address. Glenn Reynolds, better known as Instapundit, deleted his Twitter account in protest.
These recent actions have many conservatives concerned.
“Twitter started by banning people on the fringes, and now it seems they’re starting to move in and target conservatives who are closer to the mainstream like Jesse Kelly,” said Kassy Dillon, a writer at DailyWire. “It’s a shame. Twitter needs to be more clear about what rules people are violating.”
This isn’t the first time the site has been accused of quashing conservative voices. Earlier this year, reports of “shadow banning” emerged. Conservatives were allegedly targeted by the platform. Twitter denied it, but reports continued to come in of strange results on Twitter searches and reduced exposure for known conservatives.
With the rash of actual bans and suspensions, there’s no way for Twitter to hide it this time. It’s right in front of us. So how should conservatives respond?
“Twitter, clearly, is not a platform for free speech,” said Chris Pandolfo from Conservative Review. “So what are conservatives prepared to do about it other than… complain on Twitter? I don’t know the answer to that question and the bannings will continue until someone on the right can answer it.”
Is there an answer? Do conservative switch platforms? Do we abandon social media? Do we throttle down our opinions? Nothing seems immediately viable on the surface when faced with a platform many rely on that seems bent on stifling us.
There aren’t many alternatives with the same sized audience. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Reddit are the only domestic social platforms with comparable reach. If a user’s goal is to share ideological messages and communicate to the masses, isolated alternatives like gab.ai won’t help. They’re simply echo chambers, which is possibly what Twitter is trying to become on greater scale.
Hateful conduct policy
At the heart of this issue is the recently updated Hateful Conduct Policy. In it are some obvious reasons for censorship such as calls for violence against an individual or group. But one of the additions that has many scratching their head is “targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”
It means you can’t call a transgender woman a man even if biologically speaking they are.
It means you can’t call Caitlyn Jenner by her male birth name, Bruce.
It means you can get banned for asking why a transgender woman isn’t a man, as Meghan Murphy learned last week.
Murphy is not a conservative. She’s a progressive feminist. But even she was suspended for declaring that men aren’t women and asking questions about transgenderism. That tells us something very important. It isn’t necessarily conservative accounts that are being targeted, though they’re obviously more on Twitter’s radar. It’s conservative ideas that are the target.
This means the situation is actually worse than we thought. If conservative philosophies are Twitter’s focus, then it isn’t about not offending other users. It’s really more about offending social justice warriors such as the ones on Twitter’s leadership and censorship teams.
Bethany S. Mandel, who also writes for The Federalist with Kelly, sees the company culture at Twitter as a driving force behind the purge.
“This is the result of the left wing bubble Twitter staff operate in,” she said. “They whine and complain about Trump’s supposed war on the press, but have no qualms silencing speech they simply disagree with.”
To many, this seems like a free speech issue, but as Mandel points out, the Constitution doesn’t protect us from the whims of a private company. It’s their platform. They don’t have to be fair.
“We don’t have a 1st Amendment right to Twitter, but a lot of us give them an awful lot of free content,” she said. “The value add has been disappearing for some time. It’s time for conservatives to start considering alternatives platforms.”
It started on the fringe but has spread to the middle
Incremental change is what can kill conservatism on Twitter. They started by hitting the fringe elements attributed to the right, such as conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Now they’re moving towards the middle. How will they get there? By adding to the list of suspension-worthy offenses.
Knowles was suspended over a joke which was actually pretty common on Twitter. He told Democrats to get ready for election day on Wednesday, November 7. This was very clearly a joke and even some on the left told a variation of “alerting” Republicans to get their voting shoes on for Wednesday. Even if we put aside the idiocy Twitter assumes in people by thinking they could miss the election over a Tweet, we can’t dismiss the fact that he was kidding.
We’ve already seen what happens when questions are asked about transgenderism. What’s next?
Will climate change skeptics be deemed a threat in the future? Yes.
Could it be deemed offensive on Twitter to refer to illegal immigrants as anything other than the acceptable term, “Undocumented immigrants?” That one may happen sooner rather than later.
What about anti-vaxxers? Flat-earthers? Moon landing skeptics? Could these pseudo-scientific views be labeled dangerous just as Knowles’ joke was? Yes, and while some conservatives won’t grimace about these conspiratorial concepts being purged from Twitter, we should be. Just because a particular fight isn’t one we share doesn’t mean we should turn our backs on their right to express their opinions.
The left is demonstrably hypocritical. Conservatives need to take the higher road.
Can we save Twitter? Should we?
To me, the answer to both questions is “yes.” I’m not ready to give up on one of the most widely used communication and broadcasting tools available. That would be a victory for Twitter and for leftists. If Twitter used their platform’s Infinity Gauntlet to suspend half the conservatives on their platform, they wouldn’t shed a tear. They would be one step closer to the indoctrinating echo chamber they really want to be.
I’ve head several ideas about how to fix it. Some are calling for government regulations. Call me jaded, but I’d rather keep DC out of this battle.
Others have suggest finding an alternative. None exist right now, at least not anywhere near the scale of Twitter. It would take a large investment for someone to build a free-speech social network that could grow quickly and achieve half the reach of Twitter, and it’s hard to imagine such an investment would be fiscally prudent.
If I were leading the Twitter revolt, I would coordinate a campaign that highlights Twitter’s hypocrisy, doubles down on sharing our conservative philosophies, and fights the urge to play the left’s ban-game.
Step-by-step, it would look like this:
- Call out as many hate-filled leftist Tweets as possible. When leftist darlings like Louis Farrakhan, Michael Avenatti, or Eric Swalwell post things that would get a conservative banned, we need to share these Tweets with an attached hashtag, something like #NotBanned. We need to point out as many instances as possible, but we cannot report them to Twitter. More on that shortly.
- Share conservative ideas like never before. They want to silence us. That means we need o get louder. Some will get banned. Heck, all of us might get banned. But now is not the time to back down. Tweet more. Share more conservative articles and videos. Get loud and help other conservatives get loud. Retweet like crazy. If they ban us, they ban us. To quote Twitter darling Hillary Clinton, “what difference, at this point, does it make?”
- Fight the urge to play the ban-game. We don’t want conservatives banned, but we should also not want leftists banned. Don’t give Twitter examples of them being “fair.” Don’t give leftists reasons to call us hypocrites. I’ll be pointing out all suspensions and bans that I see regardless of ideology because our goal is to have a platform that adheres to lawful protections of free speech. Twitter doesn’t have to abide. It’s their platform. They could ban anyone who likes soccer more than football if they wanted to (not that many would). But if we can point a mirror their way to let them see their own hypocrisy, maybe they’ll have a reason to stand down. It’s a long shot, but it allows us to take the high road regardless of their choice.
The purge has started. Now’s not the time to back down. It’s their platform and they don’t want us on it, but that doesn’t mean we should roll over and put our eggs in a different basket. There’s a way to fight this if we stay true to our beliefs.
Here are some of the best Tweets following Kelly’s ban:
— Ben Howe (@BenHowe) November 26, 2018
Don't forget, @FoxNews quit using Twitter 3 weeks ago after Tucker Carlson was attacked at his home and @Jack/@Twitter wouldn't take down tweets from far-left groups that listed Carlson's home address/personal info.
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) November 26, 2018
This, on the other hand, is a threat. I’ll report it and nothing will happen. And that’s why conservatives distrust twitter. pic.twitter.com/AiG5uYj3FZ
— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) November 26, 2018
Welp, if Jesse Kelly is gone it’s only a matter of time before we’re all against the Twitter wall.
I hope you’ve all enjoyed my tweets cause I’ll be gone soon enough.
— Inez Stepman (@InezFeltscher) November 26, 2018
I had my share of disagreements with Jesse, but the idea that he was unfit to participate in public debate is nonsense. A reminder that voices on the Right must operate in a much narrower space than voices on the Left. https://t.co/snpvINzz56
— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) November 26, 2018
The Left is too busy banning the Jesse's of the world to deal with anti-Semitic, thuggish buffoons like Farrahkhan. Noted, @jack. Noted.
— Erielle Davidson (@politicalelle) November 26, 2018
The left isn’t interested in just shutting conservatives down. They’re looking to ruin lives. https://t.co/L6LxlGuCh7
— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) November 26, 2018
It looks like @twitter ToS moved towards forcing everyone who discusses sex/gender correctly from a biological perspective (as I do) to live at the whim of the platform.
— Eric Weinstein (@EricRWeinstein) November 26, 2018
"They're coming for you and me next" – what Jesse Kelly told Tucker Carlson about Silicon Valley just a couple months back.https://t.co/NlvdaAybfZ
— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) November 26, 2018
Here's the thing, if you're going to say someone should be banned you have to say why Louis Farrakhan should be allowed
— Ben McDonald (@Bmac0507) November 26, 2018
Twitter banning conservatives was an obvious problem before Jesse Kelly was banned w/o explanation.
I think the more important discussion for conservatives is what do we do about Twitter’s antagonistic stance towards our point of view, besides complain on Twitter?
— Chris Pandolfo (@ChrisCPandolfo) November 26, 2018
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