I’ve previously wondered what horrors I might uncover were I able to see what the Arabic speaking world were saying about atheists on Twitter. Well, thanks to the good work of Twitter user @Ahmedaa1k, I need wonder no more. And it’s not good news. Please note, Ahmed is not the individual making these statements, but the one translating them. Here are some Arabic responses to the hash tag ‘atheism is not a crime’:
Tag Archives: twitter
I recently blogged an open letter to Twitter after they informed me that my Twitter account @GSpellchecker would be ‘permanently suspended’. This produced a flurry of interest and support on a scale far greater than I had anticipated nor experienced for anything else I’ve been involved with before. It seems my fellow Twitter compadres have a potent dislike for injustice.
Well, today my Twitter account was reinstated in record time and I received an apology email from Twitter. Hurrah!
Although the email (pictured above) is generic and unrevealing, it is the desired and correct decision from Twitter. Below is my brief reply to it:
Thank you for your prompt and positive response.
I would please urge you to review and investigate the individual, or individuals responsible for these bogus reports – and review any other suspensions they’ve caused as I’m aware I’m not their only victim.
It does appear to confirm my suspicions however – individuals (or an individual) are making bogus reports of ‘abuse or harassment’ to silence criticism, or people they simply do not like. This is clear given the ‘review’ carried out by Twitter deemed the initial reports against me were not substantive enough to warrant the suspension or banning.
It’s amusing to note just how much this attempt to shut me down has backfired; indeed as a result, my blog visits have hit record numbers and downloads of my podcast have spiked. Not to mention my Twitter ‘followers’ have now crossed a 50,000 milestone. I’ve also had media enquiries and received my first new Patreon supporter in weeks. So, I suppose this is a thank you to those responsible for my suspension too.
As before, I will continue to use my voice to critique bad ideas and their ideologues, with civility – but without abuse or dilution.
I will always oppose abuse and harassment in all its forms, but it’s equally important that those who wish to stifle legitimate criticism, satire and dissent via disingenuous tactics be exposed and held to account for their behaviour also. I hope Twitter takes a good look at the responsible parties in this instance and revokes the privileges that allow them to influence automatic suspensions and bans.
I want to say a HUGE thank you to those of you who’ve shared my open letter, contacted Twitter on my behalf and sent messages of support my way. For the first time since joining Twitter I’ve actually been unable to cope with the sheer volume of tweets coming my way, so I apologise if I’ve not replied to your well-wishes, but please know it’s appreciated and has not gone unnoticed. It’s overwhelming, thank you.
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!
It appears SkyNet, or whatever algorithm Twitter uses to assess their abuse reports has seen fit to suspend my @Gspellchecker account yet again. This isn’t the first time. Given the number of times this has happened though, it’s fair to say it could be my last. Termination surely looms.
Whenever this happens – I initiate Twitters’ appeal process and wait. Twitter eventually emails me back (sometimes up to 30 days later) to inform me I’ve been reported for ‘Targeted Abuse And Harassment’. I respond to say I’ve never sent a single abusive tweet, nor harassed or encouraged the harassment of others. I also request examples of this ‘Targeted Abuse and Harassment’. Twitter then ignores my request for examples, re-activates my account, warns me it could be permanent next time and the cycle begins again.
Is anyone bored yet? I am.
Funny thing though; as documented on this blog before, Mo Ansar has accused me of ‘targeting’ him with a ‘campaign of hate & harassment’ via a number of tweets. You’ll notice these accusations map on to the reasons provided for my suspension by Twitter. I’ve also asked Ansar to provide me with examples of this and to confirm whether he has in fact reported me for these ‘offences’. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear Mo has failed to provide examples or confirm he has reported me.
Another funny thing; each suspension occurs the very same day I reply to a Mo Ansar tweet challenging some absurd claim he has made. This may be simple correlation and completely unrelated of course. I’m not a naturally paranoid man – but given Mo Ansar has been known to report someone to the police for challenging him on Twitter, or even go so far as contact someone’s place of employment to demand that they’re fired, I’d say it’s a real possibility.
Now, the idea of self-victimisation makes me feel nauseous, but I can’t help but think that it is I who has a case for being harassed, targeted and ‘bullied’ at this point. I have emailed Twitter to ask them to investigate. I intend to follow this through until they can provide me with examples of ‘abuse and harassment’ and look into whether Ansar is the one making these false reports. Who wants to help?
If you are also annoyed with a fellow infidel constantly having their Twitter privileges removed for no good reason and share my suspicions, there is a process you can follow to demand an investigation. Twitter does allow you to file reports on the behalf of others. This may be a good opportunity to ask Twitter to investigate the reports and users potentially involved (e.g, @MoAnsar). Politely of course.
Please follow this link and the instructions: https://support.twitter.com/forms/abusiveuser. (UPDATE – 03/01/2015 – Twitter may require you to provide a link to a tweet when reporting someone. Here is Mo Ansar accusing me of a ‘campaign of hate and harassment’ –https://twitter.com/MoAnsar/status/521955583625539585) – UPDATE – 04/01/15 – Tweet deleted, please see footnote (1)
I’d wager contacting someone’s employer constitutes harassment also. There’s also the unexplained mystery of Ansar’s Twitter followers suddenly increasing by several thousand in a single instant. Twitter may want to look into that too. Not to mention Ansar repeatedly posting this private conversation he had recorded on to Twitter. I’d imagine this also violates Twitters’ policy on sharing private information. You may be required to reply to a follow-up email, so check your emails. I feel requesting Twitter to investigate could reveal the following things of interest:
- Someone is making false reports to silence criticism, and worse still, these reports aren’t being reviewed, but automatically causing the suspension of accounts without even confirming whether they are guilty of any wrongdoing.
- Civil questioning, or disagreement on Twitter is a violation of their terms and services.
You can follow my back-up account: @Gspellcheck. Even if my account is reinstated, I will not dilute, or disengage from criticism of religious/bad ideas simply due to the fear of having a Twitter account suspended. I demand answers. I hope others will too.
- It appears Ansar, has deleted this tweet after it has been linked on this blog. He may be able delete it off his timeline, but I doubt he can delete the conversation from Twitters’ servers. Please feel free to still provide them with this link when reporting and I’m sure they will be able to locate the relevant exchange. The tweet in question relates to a conversation where Ansar falsely accuses me of ‘targeting’ and a ‘campaign of hate and harassment’. You can find screenshots of the full conversation here. Is deleting it to be taken as an admission of knowingly making false allegations? And if so, did he make false reports to Twitter also? As usual, no answer from Mo Ansar ↩
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.
- 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 ↩
It looks like I’ve been suspended on Twitter. I’d planned to just wait it out, but I’ve received tons of messages and emails about it, which is surprising and very kind. Thank you! So I thought I’d share some info.
No reason has been given for the suspension and I’ve initiated the appeal process with Twitter. This can take days, weeks, or could result in permanent suspension. I imagine it’s all a pretty automated affair.
I’ve a suspicion they’ll come back and inform me I’ve been reported for abuse (something similar seems to have happened to prominent video blogger Thunderf00t for annoying the right people). Obviously, anyone who’s followed me for some time will know that any complaints of abuse could not have been sincere – or accompanied by a single valid example. It’s a comfort to know that I’m annoying the right people enough to the point that they feel silencing me is a worthy endeavour! I can’t be certain who’s responsible, but who cares? It’s all a bit dull, isn’t it?
Obviously genuine abuse online is very serious & a deeply unpleasant thing, and it is good that Twitter takes a strong stance on it. It’s just a shame that Twitter’s automated process is so deeply flawed. We now have an online environment where members of ISIS can tweet endless selfies with various dismembered body parts to no consequence, yet a handful – or perhaps even one person can have me suspended on false charges.
It seems Twitter suspends first and asks questions later. But what are you going to do? There are real problems, and then there are Twitter problems. It’s amusing to think that some prominent bloggers actually make a career out of this sort of online ‘nontroversey’. Shall I rage on about harassment now? Censorship? Bullying? Use it as evidence that there’s a concerted effort to silence men online? Perhaps not.
To be honest, the trolls couldn’t have chosen a better time. I fly out to Vegas this week, so had planned to have some twitter/podcasting downtime. Who’s been to Vegas? Any suggestions for things to see? Hit the comments! Talking of ‘deep rifts’, follow my backup account @GSpellcheck and I’ll tweet you some pictures from the Grand Canyon. I’m incredibly excited!
The podcast will be completely unaffected by this silliness – and I have one episode left to release for September, which should arrive this week. Make sure you’re subscribed in iTunes, Stitcher or your preferred podcasting service. If you rely solely on my twitter feed for new podcast episodes, I’d suggest joining the mailing list on this blog and I’ll email you when new content is available. Alternatively, you can just like my Facebook page.
I can’t say this enough, but thank you for all the podcast support. I’ve recently surpassed 150,000 downloads, which is absurd. This has far exceeded my wildest expectations from when I first started last November. All you wonderfully generous patreon supporters mean a lot to me. Speak to you soon. Do I bet on red or black?
Back in October I extended an invitation to fellow non-believers to be a guest on a ‘planned’ podcast which would focus (mostly!) on the Christmas experience. Thankfully, I received plenty of interest from people far and wide. Phew.
The idea was to create something which would allow people to hear what Christmas means to other non-believers with varying cultural backgrounds, traditions and opinions.
My only hope is to provide the opportunity to learn something, laugh a little and reinforce the knowledge that religion needn’t be the only reason for the season.
Although these will remain available for free, if you do enjoy them, please consider making a contributory donation below. Your contribution will be used to supplement ongoing hosting & production costs, new equipment for further shows and possibly Scotch. Yeah. Definitely Scotch.
It’s been a huge pleasure and privilege to talk to so many different and interesting people. Finding the time to juggle full-time employment, unforgiving time differences and a laborious editing process has been a challenge, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It’s with regret that I haven’t been able to reach out to everyone that took the time to contact me, but I’m incredibly grateful to have heard from you all the same.