Mo Ansar accuses me of ‘Hate and Harassment’.
Update – 04/01/2015 – Nearly four months after falsely accusing me of a ‘campaign of hate and harassment’ on Twitter, Mo has decided to delete the tweet in question (screenshot below). He did so after I drew further attention to it in this blog post and suggested these allegations may be grounds for reporting him to Twitter’s support. Is this deletion an admission of false allegations? And if so, did they lead to false reports which have contributed to my twitter account being permanently suspended? Please read the full blog entry for background and the ethical dilemma this presents for Ansar on the serious topics of ‘Hate and harassment’.
I’ve made no secret of my fascination with the now declining media presence of Mo Ansar (may it rest in peace), and I’ve weighed in on the many instances of his questionable character right here on this very blog.
I also frequently challenge his authoritarian, yet nonsensical Twitter ramblings, but as anyone who follows my twitter account will know: this will never take the form of abuse, hate, threats or expletives1. I don’t think I deserve any credit for behaving like a decent human being, but I’d like you to keep it in mind given the seriousness of the below accusations levelled at me by Ansar.
My main twitter account @GSpellchecker, was recently suspended for a total of 30 days. This was the length of time it took for the Twitter appeal process to provide me with a reason and reinstate my account. The reason given was ‘targeted abuse’ as per the below email.
No examples were provided to me in the email and those with enough patience to sift through some 55,000 of my tweets will not uncover a single instance of abuse, of this I am confident. I replied to say I’d read the rules regarding abuse and didn’t find them to accurately reflect my Twitter usage, but I understood them and would be extra careful to make sure they were adhered to in the future. My account was then promptly reinstated. From hitting send on the email, to the almost instantaneous reinstatement leads me to believe this was an automated process.
I didn’t give much thought as to whom, or what was responsible for this, as the tactic of reporting someone under false pretences to silence them (as it appears this is what has transpired) strikes me as petty and ultimately, dull. Plus, I’d assumed it would sort itself out as soon as someone at Twitter put eyes on my appeal. Twitter’s poor support process (also dull) is a topic for another day though.
However, a brief exchange with Mo Ansar on Twitter via my backup account @GSpellcheck during my suspension left me with some questions regarding the whole reporting process.
Some background; Mo Ansar has repeatedly refused to respond to numerous allegations made against him by others including prominent journalists here, here, here and here. I have on several occasions offered Ansar a guest spot on my podcast to air his side of the story and clear his name. Listeners of the show will know I’m generous with the way in which I afford guests the freedom to speak at length, uninterrupted. But alas, it seems Mo feels bleating ‘smear campaign!’ is a convincing response – and that the whole thing will eventually go away. Well, as long as he continues to tout himself as a public figure, it won’t.
My latest offer to provide Ansar with a platform resulted in the return-fire of some unexpected accusations:
I appear to have been charged with a ‘campaign of hate and harrassment’ from Ansar. Ansar also makes a jibe indicating he is aware that my main account was at the time, suspended. I put these silly accusations down to his usual brand of playing the victim whenever he is challenged about his well-publicised dishonesty. I did however go through the knowingly futile motions of asking for examples (politely of course):
I also made the point that by using those terms so cheaply, he trivialises the issue of genuine hate & harassment, of which is obviously a very serious and deplorable way of operating.
Ansar appeared to confirm he does understand how serious these transgressions are. That’s a start at least. This also got me thinking. If Ansar seriously believes I am responsible for behaving in this inexcusable manner and knows how serious this behaviour is, surely the responsible thing to do on his part would be to report it to Twitter. Has he?
I have a feeling Ansar’s refusal to answer this question when put to him is because he knows:
1 . By confirming he has in fact reported me, he admits to having made false reports to Twitter in order to silence a critic – given there are no actual instances of hate or harassment on my part. If he feels otherwise, then he should provide examples of said hate and harassment immediately. If he did report me for those things, this would undoubtedly have contributed to my 30 day Twitter suspension.2
2. By confirming he hasn’t in fact reported me, he reveals that he thinks the appalling acts of hate and harassment are so insignificant as to not merit the effort. This would be surprising, given Ansar is someone who considers asking questions on Twitter grounds for reporting someone to the police. (UPDATE 08/01/2015 – Ansar has contacted the Police and an employer yet again over dissent on Twitter3)
So which is it Mo Ansar?
I still haven’t received an answer from him. If you are interested in hearing one, feel free to ask him too, politely of course via @MoAnsar. We now seem to have a situation where anyone can falsely accuse you of deplorable behaviour and have Twitter penalise you first, and investigate later. Surely there is a better way. When Twitter first announced it would be implementing new measures to tackle abuse a while back, I was all for it, but raised some concerns in this post when I said:
Twitter has been big news of late, with reports that they plan to implement an abuse reporting function. I’ve been asked a few times what my thoughts are on the matter, and I’m all for it.
Threatening and unlawful behaviour is completely unacceptable and those who engage in such a manner should be held accountable. I displayed my willingness to side with this sentiment recently by reporting a clearly threatening tweet (not to me) to the police.
My only concern is: how will this be regulated? Will Twitter have the manpower to efficiently distinguish abusers and trollers from genuine disagreement or attempts to engage in meaningful discourse? Given the vast numbers of Twitter users and the seemingly unrealistic task of policing it, is it likely to be an unmanned, automated process? An algorithm simply reacting to multiple ‘abuse reports’? Only time will tell.
It seems time has told. I will however operate on Twitter exactly as before; critical, but non-abusive.
Abusive behaviour is unacceptable and I’ll continue to urge people to report any instances of hate, abuse, threats or harassment on social media (or anywhere for that matter). This does not mean civil disagreement cannot, or should not be had. An inability to distinguish these two things does more harm than good to the much-needed dialogue on the topic of online abuse. We’ll add this to a growing list of things Ansar seems unable to grasp.
- I used to have some fun playing a harmless game I named ‘#GSGametime’ with my followers. The game involved encouraging followers to ask someone a nonsensical (yet polite) question and wait to see what their responses would be. For example, we once asked Deepak Chopra the question: ‘Why are you leaving?’ Which lead to this response. We also asked Joel Osteen whether they ‘were still auctioning their shoes‘. We also once asked Mo Ansar: ‘Why do you think Cats are Haram?’ This practical joking was for the purpose of inspiring confused and therefore amusing responses. Unfortunately, Ansar didn’t bite. Yes, this game is callow and I’ve not played it since Nov 2013; but it’s certainly not harassment or hate ↩
- I actually mentioned Mo Ansar on Twitter on the very day of my suspension in reference to his Twitter followers miraculously growing by 10,000 in an instant. I still don’t believe this mysterious phenomenon has been adequately explained and these extra ‘followers’ remain ↩
- This deeply vindictive harassment of contacting the Police and a peoples’ workplace to demand they are fired appears to be more common than first suspected. How many other instances of this bullying are we unaware of? https://twitter.com/CrowdFury/status/545357929353084928 ↩