In the early morning hours of January 22nd I received an email from Twitter stating my account had been permanently suspended, allegedly over the handful of tweets highlighted in the email.
Here’s a screenshot of that email:
As you can see from the content of the tweets, with the exception of the last tweet, the claim that those tweets violate Twitter’s ToS is dubious, at best. That final tweet is admittedly shameful and beyond the pale, but it is really old and I don’t believe Twitter’s policy regarding promoting or encouraging suicide or self-harm even existed at the time that tweet was posted. While I’m ashamed of that tweet and never should have posted it, retroactively applying current policies to tweets that were posted prior to the existence of those policies is unreasonable, to say the least.
As you would expect after having the account I’ve had for over 13 years permanently suspended, I have submitted an appeal.
Here is that appeal:
I realize that I have already submitted a brief appeal to my suspension, but given that this suspension appears to be a permanent one, I feel that I should have the opportunity to submit a more thorough defense that my account should not be suspended.
First, I realize that Twitter is making an attempt to clean up its platform. That is a welcome effort and long overdue. I wish it had happened far sooner. I also realize that I have no right to access this platform. My access to it is a privilege that I do not take lightly or for granted, so there will be no ridiculous cries of censorship or freedom of speech violations in this appeal.
Second, virtually all of the tweets that were included in my suspension notification email are weeks or months old, some even older. Thus I do not believe they should be retroactively subject to the policies laid out in Twitter’s current Terms of Service, which I’m sure you will agree have changed dramatically since those tweets were originally posted. Furthermore, I question whether most of those tweets even actually violate Twitter’s ToS at all. Virtually all of them are carefully worded as not to literally or even figuratively incite, glorify or promote violence, hatred, harassment of or discrimination against any individual or group.
The last 4 years have been rife with anger, desperation and despair. In light of that, my tweets are intended to provide people with a laugh, especially over the last year or so when laughs have been especially hard to come by and needed more than ever. Context is important. And in context, none of my tweets can be categorized as malicious or abusive. I have spent the past 5+ years being harassed, attacked and threatened on Twitter. Can you honestly say that this tweet from @realmikestewart (https://twitter.com/realmikestewart/status/1332657092205961218), in which he literally calls for “Death to our enemies!”, doesn’t violate Twitter’s policies against abuse or harassment and hateful conduct, but my tweets, which are obviously metaphorical and intended to elicit a laugh not only violate those policies, but warrant a permanent suspension of my account? His call to murder his political enemies is literal. Out of context it is literal. In context it is literal. It is a literal incitement of violence. And I know that specific tweet has been reported to Twitter, because I reported it myself. Yet it still remains live, as does his account.
As I have already said, your attempts to clean up the platform and make it a better virtual place to spend time is welcome and appreciated. That said, the enforcement of your rules should be consistent and applied fairly to every user on your platform. I’ve been a part of the Twitter community for 13 years. It used to be nothing but clever humor, witty banter and cat pictures. But over the past several years the platform has become a virtual Thunderdome. And I humbly admit that my tweets often reflect that and when I am harassed or attacked by trolls, I often respond somewhat in kind. However, I have never and would never promote violence against, threaten or harass anyone. That is not how I operate.
I would argue that I am the exact kind of user Twitter should want on their platform. Over the past 13 years I have grown a moderate organic following that exists because I provide quality content that people enjoy. That content varies in topic from politics & current events to food & pop culture. I consistently and creatively combat the forces that seek to unravel civilized society; fascism, white supremacy and bigotry. And I do so in a way that highlights what makes us uniquely, wonderfully human, using humor and sarcasm. My goal has never been anything other than providing worthwhile, thoughtful insight combined with a bit of snark and humor that is intended to make people think and laugh.
Are my tweets sometimes graphic and crude? Sure. Do many of them employ vaudevillian vulgarity? Absolutely. Are any of them malicious or detrimental to a relatively civilized discourse? I don’t believe they are. And I don’t believe any reasonable person would believe they are either.
If you review my timeline, you’ll see that I have mentioned several times recently that I will be relaunching my website, which will feature my original work as a writer and author. It was always my intent to do so once the nightmare of the past 4 years had passed. Please don’t rob me of the opportunity to share worthwhile, useful content on Twitter. That’s exactly what Twitter needs right now, particularly after the nightmare of the past year. I’ve been a part of the Twitter community for 13 years. And I would like to be a part of turning it back into a place that doesn’t require its users to put on a virtual hazmat suit every time they want to set foot in this digital neighborhood.
Now that I’ve made an opening statement of appeal, I’d like to address the tweets I was suspended over individually.
1) @MollyJongFast That test was reportedly done a week ago, but he just got the results. So he spent a week running around the Capitol building and who knows where out in public while infected, infecting who knows how many others. Every member of his staff should get a free kick to his nuts.
This tweet allegedly violates Twitter’s rules against abuse and harassment. I don’t believe that’s the case. This is clearly and undeniably intended to be humorous and does not in any way, shape or form encourage anyone to literally kick Rand Paul in the nuts or express a sincere wish or hope that he experiences physical harm. I didn’t tell anyone to kick Rand Paul in the nuts. I merely said his staff should have the right to do so, because he knowingly and willfully put their lives in danger with his behavior. So unless a member of Rand Paul’s staff saw this tweet from some random chick on Twitter and took that as permission to walk into his office & give ol’ Rand a swift kid to the nads with their freshly-spit-shined wingtips, which you must admit would definitely never happen, I honestly don’t see how this could ever be considered a violation of Twitter’s ToS.
2) Every single one of these people can fall asshole first onto a cactus and pirouette.
I think it’s obvious to any reasonable human being that this was not an expression of a desire to see an individual harmed. It’s merely an attempt, as are the rest of my tweets, to give people a much needed laugh during a time when laughs are hard to come by. It is cartoonish in its absurdity. I don’t believe it’s even physically possible for a human being to fall asshole first onto a cactus and pirouette, thus it’s pretty obvious that this is nothing but a hilarious visual intended to elicit a laugh. It is no more a wish to see people harmed than is a scene in the Looney Toons in which the Road Runner tricks Wile E. Coyote into falling from a cliff or running face-first into a concrete wall.
3) @roselharding @seungminkim I hope it’s tainted.
I have no idea what this is even in reference to, but clearly it’s benign and has no power to bring harm to anyone.
4) Uhh… this VABVOX bitch can deep throat a broken wine bottle.
Because I can’t bring up this tweet to see it in context of the rest of the tweets in this conversation, I can’t be sure what this was even in reference to. However, the claim that this violates Twitter’s rules against hateful conduct is pretty far fetched, as it is clearly and unequivocally not promoting violence against, threatening, or harassing other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease. I didn’t even say I hoped she would do that. I merely said that if she were to do that, I wouldn’t lose any sleep or cry any tears over it.
5) NO. WAY! I… never would have guessed that. And I never, I mean… of course you are. 🤣 And same. That trash-ass c*nt TERF can choke on a scone & go meet those lake corpse things in person any day now.
It is particularly egregious to claim that this tweet in reference to JK Rowling — a vile bigot who has promoted hate against trans people incessantly and unapologetically for months on end, causing real harm and encouraging & inciting hatred toward an entire community — violates Twitter’s policy regarding hateful conduct. To think a joke about her choking on a scone (ya know… because she’s British) and being dragged into the depths of a fictional realm by fictional monsters she created for her Harry Potter series is pretty laughable. But it’s not at all funny that Twitter considers this tweet a violation of its policy regarding hateful conduct, especially against the backdrop of allowing a bigot like JK Rowling to spew hate and encourage discrimination against the entire trans community for months on end completely unabated and unchallenged. She shouldn’t be exempt from the rules against hateful conduct just because she’s famous. A bigot is a bigot. Promoting hate against a protected community is a clear and unambiguous violation of Twitter’s ToS, yet she’s been allowed to get away with it without a single consequence. Why has my account been suspended, but hers has not?
6) If you still call yourself a Republican & you’re not crawl under the table embarrassed by this, kill yourself. KILL. YOURSELF.
This tweet is so old, I honestly don’t remember ever even posting it. I do not believe, when this tweet was posted, that Twitter’s policy against promoting or encouraging suicide or self-harm was even included in your ToS. That said, it is admittedly beyond the pale and I should be forced to delete it without delay or argument. It was wrong. I should never have posted it. And I’m ashamed that I did. I will gladly and regretfully delete it.
I am respectfully asking that you reconsider permanently suspending my account. As I said before, I believe I am exactly the kind of user Twitter should want on its platform. I am engaged and engaging. I provide worthwhile content that is both entertaining and thought provoking. I don’t believe I deserve to be permanently suspended. Please don’t rob me of the opportunity to remain a member of the Twitter community I have been a part of for 13 years. I want to be a part of the platform’s resurgence toward being a fun, safe digital environment where people can share their opinions without fear of being threatened or abused, as I so often have been over the past several years.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing back from you, ideally regarding the reinstatement of my account, at your earliest opportunity.
I submitted that appeal within hours of my account being suspended, but I’ve yet to hear back from Twitter with a status update. I would like to take an opportunity to point out that not only is Mike Stewart’s account still active, his “Death to our enemies!” tweet is still live, as well.
I don’t know what Twitter will end up doing with my account. I do know that I am exactly the kind of user Twitter should want and Mike Stewart is exactly the kind of user that they shouldn’t.
Brief follow-up email (sent February 1st):
2nd follow-up (submitted February 11th):
I intend to send a follow-up to my appeal every 10 days until I receive an answer from Twitter Support regarding the status of my account. My second follow-up was submitted on February 11th and I received the following email confirmation indicating that my original appeal remains open:
3rd follow-up (submitted March 1):
It has now been well over 30 days since I submitted my initial appeal and I have yet to receive anything but a boilerplate auto-response email stating that my suspension is under review. Not only are the allegations that the tweets over which my account was suspended dubious and arguable, it is increasingly frustrating and disappointing that I’ve not yet received an update on the status of my appeal.
I have been a valued and valuable member of the Twitter community since January 2008. I have tweeted more than 150,000 times over the past 13 years, building an entirely organic following of over 9000 Twitter users by being both engaged and engaging, providing my followers with content and commentary that brings something of value to their Twitter feeds. I’ve never chased followers or clout, treating Twitter like nothing but a numbers game, as has become commonplace on this platform.
I have never used this platform to abuse, harass or foment violence against anyone, nor to encourage others to do so. I have never used this platform to spread malicious propaganda or dangerous conspiracy theories. I have never used this platform to perpetuate bigotry and racism. I have never used this platform to undermine and unravel the fabric of democracy. I am exactly the kind of user Twitter should want on its platform.
Please reinstate my account.
My initial appeal reads as follows: [original appeal dated January 22, exactly as it appears above]
Impressive, but, I wouldn’t expect anything less from you mon ami!
Btw, good luck on your appeal. I lost my account vita_resistance of 13 years as well for some banter and writing “smack you into next week…” then “let’s revisit in a year so I can bitch slap you again” 🙄
Thanks, Gabs! You’re the best. Twitter is such a shitshow. It’s one thing to decide to start enforcing their ToS, but they do it so inconsistently and arbitrarily that it’s undeniable they’re using it as a weapon to target specific accounts that refuse to take shit from fragile mediocre white dudes, white supremacists and homophobes’ fee-fees. REMEMBER WHEN TWITTER WAS FUN?!? I sure as hell do!
Mary L McGuirk
Sigh…Hope you get it resolved. Were these things where you went to their pages or did they come to you? IMO you have a second appeal for any of them who came on your page to squabble. I tweeted it.
I’m not 100% sure I understand your question, Mary. I didn’t, for example, go to Rand Paul’s timeline to reply to one of his tweets saying his staff should get a free kick to his nuts, if that’s what you mean. The tweets included in the suspension email are pretty self-explanatory. They say what they say. I would argue that they don’t actually violate Twitter’s ToS. I don’t know if someone reported them or Twitter is just doing a deep dive into people’s timelines retroactively looking for tweets they now apparently find objectionable. I suspect it’s the former, rather than the latter. It’s hard to believe that of allllll the tweets in my timeline, Twitter would randomly single those out and permanently suspend my account over them.
At any rate, my appeal is still open and we’ll see what ultimately happens. Thanks for sharing the link to my post!
John A Atwood
Well said and spot on. You presented a good case.
Thanks. Hopefully Twitter thinks so, too!
You wrote a damn good appeal. So good, in fact, that I bet it had to be sent up the chain for a decision on the actions to be taken in response.
Thanks, Dustin. Fingers crossed that it ends up in the right hands and my account gets restored.