I got suspended from Twitter the other day after someone tweeted a friend* of mine the following:
And I responded:
This isn’t a brilliant rhetorical move on my part, per se, but it is tried and true; take their words and throw them right back in their face. I was suspended for this reason.
(Update: they deleted their entire account. Loser.)
We’re writing to let you know that your account features will remain limited for the allotted time due to violations of the Twitter Rules, specifically our rules against abusive behavior.
To ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs on our platform, we do not tolerate behavior that crosses the line into abuse. This includes behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another person’s voice.
Even if one thought my tweet wasn’t effective, it’s not abusive on my part. A failed attempt at making a point? Perhaps but not an actual threat or instance of abuse. I brought this to the attention of Twitter and they rejected my pleas, electing to keep my suspension in place for the rest of the week. What is abusive language, exactly? For that, we turn to the Official Twitter Rules:
We believe in freedom of expression and open dialogue, but that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up. In order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs, we prohibit behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice.
Context matters when evaluating for abusive behavior and determining appropriate enforcement actions. Factors we may take into consideration include, but are not limited to whether:
- the behavior is targeted at an individual or group of people;
- the report has been filed by the target of the abuse or a bystander;
- the behavior is newsworthy and in the legitimate public interest.
Violence and physical harm
Violence: You may not make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people. This includes, but is not limited to, threatening or promoting terrorism. You also may not affiliate with organizations that — whether by their own statements or activity both on and off the platform — use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes.
Suicide or self-harm: You may not promote or encourage suicide or self-harm. When we receive reports that a person is threatening suicide or self-harm, we may take a number of steps to assist them, such as reaching out to that person and providing resources such as contact information for our mental health partners.
Child sexual exploitation: You may not promote child sexual exploitation. Learn more about our zero-tolerance child sexual exploitation policy.
That one will be funny in a few moments, but none of these apply to me either. I’m not a terrorist and while I said I “hope” this person died, it was really a general message of hope, not a specific and targeted threat, your honor.
Abuse and hateful conduct
Abuse: You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. We consider abusive behavior an attempt to harass, intimidate, or silence someone else’s voice.
Perhaps the whiner who reported me felt I would use a driver-less car to kill.
Unwanted sexual advances: You may not direct abuse at someone by sending unwanted sexual content, objectifying them in a sexually explicit manner, or otherwise engaging in sexual misconduct.
I’ve learned in my life that all of my sexual advances are unwanted and so I never make any. Still, “Bob, why is your account down?” “Sent a dick pic” is sorta funny.
Hateful conduct: You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease. Read more about our hateful conduct policy.
I really, really want to use the term Mohammadian in my every day speech, for what it’s worth.
Hateful imagery and display names: You may not use hateful images or symbols in your profile image or profile header. You also may not use your username, display name, or profile bio to engage in abusive behavior, such as targeted harassment or expressing hate towards a person, group, or protected category.
Bears are inherently peaceful creatures and I will not stand for my people being considered a symbol of hate.
Private information and intimate media
Private information: You may not publish or post other people’s private information without their express authorization and permission. Definitions of private information may vary depending on local laws. Read more about our private information policy.
Intimate media: You may not post or share intimate photos or videos of someone that were produced or distributed without their consent. Read more about intimate media on Twitter.
Threats to expose / hack: You may not threaten to expose someone’s private information or intimate media. You also may not threaten to hack or break into someone’s digital information.
You may not impersonate individuals, groups, or organizations in a manner that is intended to or does mislead, confuse, or deceive others. While you may maintain parody, fan, commentary, or newsfeed accounts, you may not do so if the intent of the account is to engage in spamming or abusive behavior. Read more about our impersonation policy.
I wish I’d made my handle “REALMichaelCoughlin” just so people would wonder why I’m so important that I need to distinguish myself from those who are fake.
If you’ve never been suspended by Twitter, and the odds are most of you haven’t because you have the gene that tells you to let up and not push things, a condition of return to the platform is they make you delete the offending tweet. Not that I accept the tweet was deleted, no, that I myself must do so. I mean, who does that? Are they actually demanding the 21st century version of ten Hail Marys? Need I walk through the digital streets flogging myself? Someone read 1984 and thought, “That’s a great idea!”
Extra creepy? Word on the street is that there is a group of pedophiles dedicated to reporting tweets like mine, so as to get people kicked off Twitter because a group of us were making life too difficult for the pedophiles to try and, I guess, engage with children online. Really. I’ve seen a few on Twitter brag that this is their goal, with a couple of bicycle seat sniffers subsequently adding me to their own personal “list” of people to watch.
I won’t lie: it’s nice having an audience.
*Yes, I consider Owen my friend.