We, the cosigned and retweeting masses, call upon Twitter to fix its shady ban practices. Namely we call for transparency and for a real appeal system. The current system is far too automated, doesn’t apply context, gives no evidence and provides no room to properly appeal decisions made by Twitter. Below is why this matters.
I’m Cursed E. I’m currently @ObscuredLeg on Twitter and this account is my 7th. Before that @Edesruc, before that @Uncursed_, @Still_Cursed, @CursedEBlogger @CursedE_Blog, and my original account @CursedEBlog. A really concise timeline of the events that have led up to this point can be found here. Across all of these accounts I still do not have any idea why I was banned, and I’m not alone.
Since my most recent ban and creating this campaign, @6ame was banned. @PizzaPartyBen was banned. Hunter Avallone was banned. Cognitive Thought was banned. @Scienceporn was banned. KrautAndTea, Wokieleaks was banned and probably countless others. Not even to mention the shit storm that was the Armenian elections. With Twitter banning legitimate journalist Twitter accounts – but not the Russian hacker spam bots. All of this occurred in the two weeks since I started the campaign.
Interesting to note is that of those that were banned I only know of one who was unbanned. Wokieleaks. Who at the time of his ban had 16,000 followers and hundreds of people liking and retweeting the hashtag #FreeWokieLeaks. To which, Jack Dorsey himself got involved, investigating the ban and eventually unbanning Wokie. The horrible thing about this is how this system disadvantages small and unknown accounts. The only way to have a fair chance of having your ban looked at by a human is if you’re a huge account like Wokie.
When Wokie was unbanned they showed him the tweet – not before he was unbanned – not to show him why he was banned – but so he could delete it and after they had lifted his suspension already. The tweet in question? It was Wokie calling a homophobe a faggot, over a year ago.
This is a damning indictment of Twitter’s ban system. It’s a fundamental flaw of how it works. You can’t simply ban words from being used at all and call yourself a free speech platform. Especially when those words aren’t necessarily being used in the context you’re trying to avoid. Like with the case of Wokie, you’re not silencing the homophobia – you’re silencing someone making fun of homophobia. So this ban entirely missed the point of what it was trying to achieve. Plus the fact that the way this is applied massively inconsistent. Accounts are banned for tongue-in-cheek humour, where as others aren’t banned for actual hate and abuse.
The fact that someone can report a years old Tweet and that’s just an instant suspension, no questions asked is awful too
Another Twitter user and someone who has written about the tech industry for websites like Breitbart, Will Ross also got involved with the campaign and made some very good points.
I’ve also had a lot of people telling me to just give up and move to another platform like Minds, and if this doesn’t work, if we can’t do anything to save Twitter, I will. Until then though, until there’s not a chance of fixing Twitter an exodus is not really the best option. As with most exoduses, only one kind of person goes. If the rational, debate, skeptic, anti sjw, whatever the heck you want to call them community all leave – that leaves the normies on Twitter. It leaves nobody to discuss with them why their ideas are bad, it creates an echo chamber – which is in essence what Twitter wants. To me? Leaving sounds like letting them win. I refuse.
Twitter is worth saving because of its wide diversity of people, because of all the different ideas and people talking about stuff. No other platform can guarantee what Twitter already has in terms of diversity and numbers.
None of the above even covers Twitter’s policy on shadowbans and their new account locking features. I was unfortunate to receive both at the same time for advertising #bansparency. This meant that my tweets were almost entirely hidden. They didn’t show up in threads – even to who followed me. They only showed up if you went to my feed and looked at them directly. One tweet had several retweets and likes, the person in it received not a single notification.
Yet another problem is Twitter’s “quality control” – which instead of displaying all tweets to you, decides which tweets to show you. Twitter is slowly becoming an information controlled area, where you’re only allowed to see what they want you to see. Can we make a claim that Twitter is benevolent and these powers aren’t a huge overstep? I don’t think so, not in the way they’re being used and experienced by the users.
So what can we do? Keep making noise. Keep #bansparency in the trending and keep sharing #Free[Twitteruser] tags – no matter how small or unknown the account is. The facts are that there’s never a reason given for why they’re banned. Even if you suspect they may have been banned for something – like people did with Wokie – it might turn out they were banned for an old tweet by some really mad user. Who is to say until we get actual evidence from Twitter?
We are being infantilised by Twitter heavily – told we can’t be responsible for our own emotions and responses to things on the internet. We’re having the information heavily censored and controlled before its given to us, and if you step out of line too much you will be shadowbanned. Your account may be limited. Or maybe you will just be suspended with no real chance at appealing, and of course all subsequent accounts will be subject to a ban evasion ban.
This is like its straight out of a dystopian sci fi future – except its really happening. If you ever wondered how totalitarian regimes end up in power – this is it, you’re looking at how it happens right now. It’s a slow but steady stream of “we’re just doing this for your own good” sort of sentiments. That all compound into total control of people, thoughts, ideas, information. If we allow it to happen to Twitter, if we sit back and do nothing, then we’re basically complicit, in my honest opinion.
@Jack @Support @Twitter
How can Twitter fix the problems? Easy.
The quality filter; stop thinking that the onus to police what people see is on you – its not – it’s on individuals. If someone doesn’t like a piece of content, or the things people are saying then they should block them. The content shouldn’t be hidden because you deem it low quality. Because what if I don’t deem it low quality? What if I think there’s something valuable in those tweets? No AI currently in existence can currently tell the quality of a post with any degree of accuracy. Robots are absolutely terrible at context.
Obviously illegal content should be removed from the site altogether, such as child pornography… Jack… try that instead of banning people reporting the child pornography … Jack…
As for shadowbans – install an appeal option. Shadowbanning isn’t always illegitimate, sometimes its used to stop spammers without notifying them so they don’t just start all over again. Great. However it sometimes doesn’t just catch spammers, so allow people the opportunity to appeal a shadow ban. I’ve had them last for days, @Sargon_Of_Akkad had one last for months.
Suspensions: when you ban someone, give them the reason and a screenshot of the tweet that they were banned for. That way they can launch an appeal and properly address the tweets and apply context to them. As it stands when you’re banned you just have to guess at what they banned you for and hope for the best. This system is obviously massively weighted against the user. Especially if they don’t have lots of followers to make a noise on their behalf.
and finally; stop relying on robots to make these decisions. AIs and robots can’t do this job currently. I know its cheaper, I know its more efficient time wise, but its also a pain in the ass for your consumers – who are thinking of jumping ship because of it. If you’re not going to do it because its the right thing to do for your users, then do it because its the right thing to do for your business. Just look at your stock prices.
Below the line is the earlier versions of this post for posterity – its basically a shorthand of what kick started this whole thing. Enjoy at your own peril.
Article has now been shared by June and Sargon, which is amazing, I can’t even imagine how many people must be taking part right now. Thank you guys so much! ❤
I’m also back on Twitter as @ObscuredLeg if you want to hit me up! 🙂
and finally here’s a Thunderclap, mostly for my own benefit to check how many people are contributing, but also because it will help send the message. Keep up the great work guys, you’re all incredible and I love you.
Also massive shout out to Hobbyist Contrarian and Sargon of Akkad for reposting this stuff. You guys rock! You probably know where to find Sargon, but you can check out Hobbyist Contrarian’s blog here!)
We all know someone who has been banned or have been banned ourselves and we all know exactly how bad Twitter’s system is at dealing with this. My most recent account lasted a few months, was approaching 700 followers and didn’t break the rules. However because I was mass reported by radical feminists for targeted abuse and “aggressive following” – I’m now permanently banned. Twitter have made it clear that they will continue banning my accounts in a recent automated response.
This is the 6th account I’ve had banned without any chance of a real appeal. I would love the opportunity to discuss Twitter’s ban system, the appeals process and their inconsistent banning methods with Twitter. I want to know why I’m banned up front, I don’t want to have to ask repeatedly for months before I get an answer – I shouldn’t have to be writing this post at all. But here I am.
I think that if Twitter is to survive as a platform for free speech that it must be more transparent with the above. However there is no real way to contact Twitter and ask for this to happen, the public facing email addresses are all automated too. Meaning you just get stuck in a loop and have no chance at explaining context to the person who decided you should be banned.
That’s where my internet sleuthing has come in. I noticed that Twitter’s email addresses follow a real typical formula. Its the employees first initial and their surname @ twitter dot com. So I’ve compiled a list of about 100 Twitter Employees. I found these by looking at the followers and following lists of known Twitter Employees such as Ed Ho and Jack Dorsey. Most use their full name as their display name and advertise the fact they work at Twitter, so the list was fairly easy to compile.
I’ve tested a few of them and it seems my suspicions were right. I get no error messages from the postmaster – where as you usually do when you email an email address that doesn’t actually exist.
This is an unprecedented chance for Twitter denizens to get out voices heard, they can ignore one or two emails, but can they ignore thousands of us asking for change? I doubt it, but there really is only one way to find out and all it takes is sending an email.
Below is the list of email addresses and a template email to send them. Please use the hashtag #Bansparency in the subject line.
Subject: #Bansparency: Twitter rework the ban & appeal systems.
Body: We are writing today to petition Twitter to be more transparent with the ban system. We request that Twitter shows evidence for bans when requested and allow an opportunity for a human on human conversation as an appeal process.
We believe Twitter’s ban system is inconsistent and unfair, we think the automated nature of it can never fully account for context and in those times we would like a real opportunity to appeal. The current system does not support this and has left a lot of people feeling jaded, being banned unfairly having to rely on other people to help get our voices heard and appeal. Notable examples of this include huge accounts, such as @Sargon_Of_Akkad.
This campaign was started by Cursed E – originally @CursedEBlog, most recently @Edesruc, you can contact her at info@CursedE.Blog & read her post on the matter here: https://cursede.blog/2017/03/30/call-to-action-twitter-ban-transparency/
Thank you for your time,