Twitter’s new Trust & Safety Council is silencing political speech on the pretext of ensuring civility and keeping the social network a “safe” space, according to conservative bloggers, who are pointing to a number of rightwing Twitter users banned by the platform in recent weeks.
One of the recent targets of the alleged censorship is conservative blogger Robert Stacy McCain, who had attracted over 90,000 followers with tweets criticizing feminism and feminist activists like Anita Sarkeesian, who has attacked sexism in video games.
Although it’s unclear what his specific offense was, McCain published a post on his blog with a message from Twitter explaining that his account was suspended for “participating in targeted abuse.” Shortly after his personal account was suspended, a separate account maintained by McCain to promote his book “Sex Trouble” was also suspended.
McCain noted that his suspension came a few weeks after Sarkeesian was appointed to Twitter’s Trust & Safety Council, and also pointed out that under Twitter’s new rules, “abusive or harassing behavior” can include “disagreement with my opinion.”
Bloggers also called attention to the travails of another conservative writer and pundit, Breitbart tech editor Milos Yiannopoulos, who lost his “verified” status on Twitter and accused Twitter of engaging in “shadow banning,” or deliberately lowering the profile of users with unwelcome ideologies in feeds and search results. Yiannopoulos claims that this practice was confirmed by an unnamed source inside the company as well as a senior editor at a prominent digital publisher, neither of whom were named.
A number of other conservative bloggers have chimed in with their own complaints about “shadow banning,” claiming that their tweets are not appearing in their followers’ twitter feeds.
On her Web site Feminist Frequency, Sarkeesian dismissed these claims as a “conspiracy theory,” adding: “Of course there isn’t a shred of truth to this perception, but for the people spreading it, the truth is irrelevant. The tweets, blogs and videos are designed to incite rage and enlist more people to join the crusade against me… This conspiracy and others like it are themselves a manifestation of misogyny, borne out of a deep distrust and hatred of women. They’re designed to foster fear and serve as a warning to other women about what awaits them if they challenge the status quo.”