In Twitter prison

By January 17, 2021Society

Out of the blue, I received a message on Twitter that my account had been locked for a week for ‘promoting or encouraging suicide or self-harm’. This was because of a Tweet I sent in response to one from Richard G. Corbett, former leader of the UK Labour Party in the European Parliament. Corbett’s Tweet was concerned with the mess in which Brexit had left the UK.

The tweet said: “The nation of “Don’t mention the war” is leaving the world’s greatest ever peace project. The “Nation of shopkeepers” is walking away from the planet’s biggest single market. The home of the Suffragettes is abandoning the champion of equality & human rights worldwide”.1

I replied to this Tweet with:

“Shooting yourself in the foot; in the middle of a pandemic. What a bunch of idiots.”

This was the offending tweet which Twitter insisted had to be deleted. Twitter looked upon this tweet as encouraging people to actually shoot themselves in the foot. Yes, really.

Being sent to Twitter prison has happened to me before. I was sent down for 12 hours for being so exasperated with a politician, I told him go and ‘play in the traffic’. I would have expected that playing in the traffic was much more likely to cause a fatal injury than shooting oneself in the foot. But then, what would I know; I don’t run a social media platform.




  • Bronwyn Benn says:

    That’s what happens when social media platforms insist on using algorithms, as opposed to having an actual human review the material. Better luck next time!

    • admin says:

      It isn’t really a problem. I have felt a bit more relaxed, and it’s not like the idiots will go away while I am locked out. There will be plenty of time to harangue them later.

  • Mark Dougall says:

    I guess maybe the Twitter moderators think that it is impossible to overestimate the stupidity of some, or even of many, of those people who may be reading something. So using well worn cliches like “shooting yourself in the foot” or “cutting off your nose to spite your face” (both quite applicable to Brexit) could lead some quite stupid people to shoot themselves in the feet, or cut their noses off. I am not sure I have ever heard of this actually happening though so they do seem overly cautious. On the other hand they have seemed to be relatively comfortable with allowing messages for years from a demagogic moron who has immense influence over millions of very stupid, highly suggestible individuals, stating all sorts of things directly that were lies, harmful, inciting hatred, racist, sexist, and, as we have seen, incredibly dangerous.

    The lack of consistency and the inability to detect nuance in comments perhaps indicate that the platforms are still quite immature, as are many of the users. Let’s face it there are many people using these platforms where this is the only reading they ever do, or have ever done, and it is the only form of written communication they have ever sent (except for phone texts). Twenty five years ago these people would never have read anything, let alone have written something themselves, and shared stupidity with others of similar disposition. That is one of the reasons why social media has been so influential in the development of populist movements. The social media platforms do have the right, as you do on this blog, to accept or reject anything they want, and fair enough. What I do not think they should be permitted to do is to enable the promulgation of deliberately manipulative, and dangerous posts and misinformation

    I am aware of some of the social media dreadfulness through my wife who is on facebook. I am not on any social media platform but if I was I am pretty sure I would be suspended within a few minutes.

    • admin says:

      I expect Twitter’s suspension is initially based on algorithms which pick up words and their order, and while I appealed the decision, I always suspected it would not be successful. If it was, that would be an admission of imperfection in the algorithm, and for them it would be a can of worms. Your understanding of the affect social media has on the gullible is something I hadn’t really thought about. However, it does ring true, given the latest news from those who watch the spread of disinformation. They say that since Trump and others of his ilk were banned from Twitter, Parler was shut down, and QAnon and other fruitcake groups have been excised from facebook, the spread of disinformation has dropped by something like 70%.

  • Jon says:

    Couldn’t agree more Arthur.

  • Russell says:

    The robotic way in which some intelligent social media contributions are treated, is in some way an illustration of postmodern culture’s weirdness. Mark D indicates well in his words above, that genuine literacy, shown by nuanced use of language to examine a given subject, is being usurped and replaced by simplified forms. Those forms can easily become simpleton as well. Encouraging a vast population of obsessive ‘tweeters’ and Facebook adherents etc, are ugly profit-driven masters of the multiverse, Zuckerberg and his like. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them entertain a Farenheit 451 scenario for the future. But people who instinctively dislike shallow, perfunctory modes of communication have good reason. Too often threads of chatter/debate on social media are studded with poor thought, odd grammer (sic) and naughty spelling. (- or should one say, “remiss orthography of heinous aspect”. )

    From a rising number of digital platforms, gush frequently misinformed or unfounded and emotionally supercharged opining on any trending issue. The seductive but also potentially destructive Twitter and its cousins have also fostered a phenomenon that in the western world grows larger by the minute; being a contingent of over-confident cyber- shouters and traffickers of what can only be called mental rubbish. Question! Will a civilised citizenry ultimately be overrun by cultural pollution via social media without strictures? And might the rich “Gutenberg galaxy” of times past (- yes, the book, the journal and the pamphlet) wither away? The millions of scribblings and thought bubbles found on the net make comical white noise , but some of us are suspicious they might actually displace earlier, well-tested and high quality modes of communication.

    • admin says:

      Having observed the twitter people (or tweeps in the Twitter lingo), of course there are numerous nutters who have trouble stringing coherent sentences, let alone thoughts, together. Many of these seem to be people who are susceptible to the drivel spouted by people like Trump, Johnson and Morrison. However, there are numerous people who are thoughtful, and have a great deal of expertise in their particular fields of endeavour, whether they be in energy policy, energy markets, epidemiology, climate change, electric vehicles, etc. There are also enthusiastic amateurs like myself who are outraged at inequality and the lack of morality in the current government. One group which is small but very effective and always eminently sensible, and they are former Murdoch journalists who clearly couldn’t stand it any more and have exited that madhouse to breathe the air outside.
      I think that the Trump insurrection has made some of these social media platforms realise that such things as incitement and disinformation can leave them exposed to opprobrium, if not litigation or prosecution. That will help get the thick conspiracy theorists off the airwaves. One hopes it continues.

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