#TwitterGulag: When Wingnut Persecution Fantasies Go Horribly Wrong
Today we have a classic tale of a dim-witted conspiracy theory, made up out of thin air and totally unsupported assumptions, factually wrong yet believed by thousands of wingnuts.
This is the tale, my friends, of the dreaded “Twitter Gulag” — the wingnuts’ grandiose self-pitying name for having their accounts suspended for harassing, stalking, and spamming liberals, which, in their alleged minds, is exactly like being imprisoned in a communist forced labor death camp.
This persecution fantasy is spelled out in a ludicrous blog post at “The Trenches:” #TwitterGulag : How It Works… and What to Do | the Trenches.
For anyone familiar with the Conservative communities of Twitter, the hashtag #TwitterGulag is probably familiar by now. If you’re not familiar, it’s the term adopted after a spate of accounts began to be suspended for barely discernible reasons. Users brand new to Twitter who looked to be part of the Conservative community, and even some that were relatively well established, fell victim to the fun little system exploit that a select group of Lefties discovered and began to spread among their circles. It’s been an ongoing problem that Twitter is well aware of. Brooks Bayne originally wrote about this exploit in 2008.
How it Works:
Thanks to the work of Twitter user @SemperBanU (SBU) (give a follow, if you feel like it), the exploit, and how it was disseminated among Lefty’s [sic] has become apparent. According to SBU, what the Lefty jerks discovered is that the “block and report for spam feature” IS COMPLETELY AUTOMATED. There is not a human sitting at the other end to review the reports, there’s just a computer, and like any machine, it can be fooled.
OK, let’s start by pointing out that the claim made in the bold section above is… well, it’s completely false. As in, wrong.
Here’s what the official Twitter Blog has to say about the “Block and Report” feature: Twitter Blog: Help Us Nail Spammers.
Folks can now help us conquer spam by calling our attention to a profile they find questionable. Click the “Report as spam” button under the Actions section of a profile’s sidebar and our Trust and Safety team will check it out to see what needs to be done. No automated action will be taken as a result of reporting a user as spam (in other words, it can’t be used to incite an angry mob against an account you don’t like.)
In other words, the right wingers who claim that “Lefty jerks” are exploiting an automated feature that suspends accounts without human intervention are simply… wrong. Mistaken. Hoist with their own petards. There is no “COMPLETELY AUTOMATED” system.
What’s more, the “Block and Report” feature was specifically designed by Twitter in order to prevent exactly the kind of organized blocking campaigns about which the #TwitterGulag morons are hallucinating.
The page titled How to Report Spam on Twitter at the Twitter Help Center confirms that accounts reported as spam are reviewed by their Trust and Safety Team, not automatically suspended by computer systems, and that “blocking and reporting” does not guarantee an account will be suspended:
What Happens to Reported Accounts?
After you click the “report as spam” link. We’ll do the following:
- Block the user from following you or from replying to you.
- Twitter’s Trust and Safety Team will review the account
You may not immediately or definitely see this account suspended.
Returning to that incredibly dumb post at “The Trenches,” they continue on to claim that this nonexistent campaign to put conservatives in concentration camps is being organized by… me. Yes, because I am just that evil, people. (Insert villainous cackle.)
According to SBU, the originator of this attack seems to be one Neal Rauhauser. (Shocking I know). At the beginning of April, Rauhauser began to contact Charles Johnson (@lizardoid and of Little Green Footballs fame), an unholy alliance if there ever was one. Rauhauser passed this fun little exploit along to Jazzytail (Charles – see: his ponytail), and Jazzytail passed it along to HIS followers and comrades, with the specific intent of targeting conservative types.
None of this ever happened. Nobody ever “passed an exploit” to me, and I never passed it on to anyone else, because there is no exploit. This whole scheme exists only in the feverish imaginations of right wing fanatics and stalkers.
I won’t bother responding to any more of this trash — I’ll just point out that the anonymous person who’s being cited as an authority on Twitter, “SemperBanU,” (formerly known, charmingly, as “ButFukChuk”) is one of a gang of obsessed right wing weirdos who have been stalking me online for years. He uses my name as his Twitter screen name, and a crude caricature (that I assume is supposed to be me) as his avatar, he tweets about nothing except how much he hates me, he stalks and harasses anyone I follow on Twitter, and he comes from a website run by someone who admitted publicly to committing violent hate crimes against Muslims, a website where videos are posted that praise the neo-Nazi book, “The Turner Diaries,” one of the inspirations for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
These facts could possibly explain why SemperBanU’s account has been suspended multiple times by Twitter’s Trust and Safety Team.