Permanent Suspension: An Open letter to Twitter #09914411

Image Source: http://fnrrfygmschnish.deviantart.com/art/Stop-Sign-Graveyard-2-333610090

Image Source: http://fnrrfygmschnish.deviantart.com/art/Stop-Sign-Graveyard-2-333610090

Update 06/12/2015- My main account has been fully restored. A HUGE thank you to everyone who shared this page and asked questions on my behalf. It means a lot. Reason has prevailed!

After several suspensions, Twitter has decided to ban me permanently.  The reasons given are usually violations of their terms and services related to ‘Targeted abuse or harassment’.  Even though I ask, I’ve never received a single example of my engagement in this behaviour.  I don’t believe the big wigs at Twitter are being anti-atheist, or anti free-speech, or any other such silly victim nonsense, but rather a flawed and automated reporting system is being abused to silence criticism.  My lofty goal with the below open letter is to prompt an actual human being at Twitter to review my case and provide me with some feedback as to what exactly I tweeted that was deserving of permanent suspension from Twitter.  Please share this post and amplify it to Twitter execs, @Support and those with influence in the ‘atheist community’ etc:

Case Id #09914411

Dear Twitter,

I joined your micro blogging service back in 2012, when ‘join the conversation’ was the mantra. And join it I did, and I fell in love with you immediately. I created the account @Gspellchecker when I noticed a steady stream of badly spelled anti-atheist bigotry and hate working through the Twitter servers. I decided before I’d even sent my very first tweet that I’d never use a single expletive, engage in any abuse, nor reward or encourage any such behaviour from those kind enough to follow me. I kept to that set of ethics right up until my permanent suspension in Jan 2015 where I was forced to bow out to a total of 49,600 followers.

Over the years, interacting with these excellent individuals and seeing their numbers grow has led to some simply wonderful things. As a direct result of this Twitter ‘following’ I’ve been able to win two Golden Twit awards (Humour and Information Service), launch a popular and successful podcast where not only do I get to interview famous heroes of mine, but I get to provide a platform for unknown, but equally brilliant activists and people with incredibly important things to say. And even better, start my own charitable fund-raising initiative. The support for which has come entirely from my Twitter followers’ generosity and engagement with my account – raising a grand total of £25,775.83 for charitable causes.  I also sometimes receive emails from people telling me my activities on Twitter have helped them shake the shackles of some deeply negative ideology.  Seriously.  Isn’t that amazing?  I love Twitter.

I’ve been suspended several times in recent months, and the reason supplied to me is always ‘targeted abuse or harassment’. I kindly explain I don’t feel I am violating any of Twitters’ rules regarding these areas, and politely request examples of me doing this.  This at the very least would be helpful so I may learn what is acceptable and adjust my behaviour accordingly.  I also note in my emails that I believe it is I who is being targeted, to no response or investigation.  My account is always reactivated – without highlighting where precisely I went wrong.  It seems even though I’ve maintained my commitment to non-abusive, civil discussion, Twitter has decided my lives have now ran out.

I think the bigger issue is however; I’m not in violation of your terms. It seems to me your ‘report abuse’ function is being abused in order to silence dissenting voices or genuine civil criticism.

Abuse and harassment are both awful and incredibly serious things. I applaud and support Twitters’ commitment to penalising those who feel it’s acceptable to engage in such a deplorable way.

However, your system is flawed. I appreciate you have far too many users for it to be anything but automated, but it is currently punishing users that are using your services legitimately, for discussion, challenging ideas, and promoting worthy causes and dialogue.

All I ask is that you please review my case by putting actual human eyes on the tweet examples provided to you, as I believe examples are mandatory when making these reports. When doing so, please ask yourself whether these constitute ‘abuse’ in any meaningful sense and whether it’s more likely your reporting function is being exploited to silence genuine, but undesired criticism by the same individual, or individuals.

In your worthy commitment to providing a report function for genuine abuse, it appears you have overlooked the possibility of that function actually becoming abused as a tool to constantly silence legitimate voices. What measures can you suggest to prevent this function from becoming an actual tool of harassment?  It appears I am a casualty.

Kind regards,

Stephen (Previously The Godless Spellchecker)

Please share this where you can if like me, you feel Twitter has made a mistake on this occasion. Thank you for all the support and kind words that have come my way so far.  The best way to keep up to date with new content is to subscribe to this blog (free) by entering your email address.

You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

23 comments

  • Link posted to the @Support account. Here’s hoping common sense prevails. Let us all known if there’s more that can be done.

  • Simply outrageous ….

  • Link sent to support as well, lets hope somone looks at it.

  • Posted a tweet with this link to support and asked for retweets, for what it’s worth. Hope we can do something to get the account restored. Good luck.

  • Hun, they’re on the drink @support I think!! Suspended Naradee 12 for period over festive season while the loopers got away Scot free!! RT and hope it helps!!! It’s good to talk and ffs…. that’s what you did!! Hope it helps! Let us know cause we do a good # campaign you know???

  • Couldn’t forget!! Fx

  • Chris / @UncouthAtheist

    Done and reported. And politely, I might add =)

  • There is more than one way to skin a cat.

  • Sorry, and good luck!

  • Your experience is identical with mine. Twitter will give all sorts of excuses for not providing examples of offending tweets, enen citing on one occasion, data protection and confidentiality, but never a name to whom you can appeal.

    My suspicion is that a mass spam-blocking campaign triggered a ban and they won’t admit to this because it is tantamount to them abandoning any pretense of defending free speech and handing over policing of Twitter to those who wish to suppress it.

    To effective police the hundreds of millions of tweets daily would probably be impossible but they have opted for the cowards option and then they hide behind a wall of anonymous, automated customer service.

    Good luck.

  • Im totally gutted you were my reason for Twitter can’t believe it have tweeted @support can’t we do something else? This is madness so sorry

  • I had a similar situation. Though I think I re-branded (not for that reason). I would reply to political people who were calling for votes asking for their policy solution and #OptInRecall on them calling for and supporting it. I still do, but from another account. I suspect I found a few politicians who like to talk but try to change the rules when challenged with something they don’t want to answer.

  • It appears that your account has been reinstated. Perhaps an update to your post is in order?

  • I’ve pretty much given up on Twitter these days. This is just another reason for me to not bother.

  • Pingback: Twitter reinstates my account: A huge thank you | Godless Spellchecker's Blog

  • You’re in good company – lots of the people I follow have been suspended or banned for no reason other than expressing opinions that a vociferous butthurt group don’t like (usually feminists.) Twitter caved in to complaints about a few high profile cases of harassment (mostly inflated out of all proportion) and, not surprisingly, the so-called ‘protections’ they put in place immediately started to be abused.

  • I too, am permanently suspended and I have no idea why.I have had no less than 5 accounts suspended. I usually only last about a week on twitter before they suspend me. Ive tried to change my IP address, delete apps, etc. I don’t do anything crazy or out of the ordinary, I’m snarky and funny and theres a couple of people I dislike but by no means am I as bad as some of the stuff I see. I’m usually snarking about the real housewives of BH. really edgy stuff right. Yet apparently I am never allowed to use twitter again. My original account was really popular with thousands of followers. It sucks. Just know you’re not alone. 😐 they never answer the appeals, write back or give a reason, no phone number, no nothing just suspended over and over.

  • I had the same thing happen to me. They say I was suspended “for making violent threats” and will not be restored, but when I ask for the instance there is no reply.

  • Pingback: Suspended From Twitter (Again) | Godless Spellchecker's Blog

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