Permanent Suspension: An Open letter to Twitter #09914411
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
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.
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.