BuzzFeed has a post up dealing with internal Twitter emails which show how that company went through the process of banning Milo Yannopoulos. While the BuzzFeed piece is somewhat sympathetic to Twitter, it demonstrates how poorly crafted Twitter’s internal processes were (and apparently still are).
The emails also highlight a fundamental tension inside Twitter — the strain between the company’s desire to rid its platform of bad actors and its oft-professed commitment to a maximalist interpretation of free speech.
One employee argued that Twitter’s own internal metrics suggested a different meaning for the blue checkmark. “[Verification] makes the account measured for Media OKRs [Objectives and Key Results] and contributes to the VIT [Very Important Tweeter] count we report to shareholders,” Sharp wrote in an email to fellow executives, suggesting that verified users were valuable to the company. According to a person in a position to know, Twitter’s earnings reports included references to the number of celebrities and VIP users on platform, meaning that verification would boost those numbers.
I’m not going to get into whether or not Milo violated Twitter’s Terms of Service. I’ll speak to my own case. My @wjjhoge account was permanently banned from Twitter after false complaints for Brett Kimberlin. I have seen no evidence that Twitter did any substantive investigation of the complaints. Twitter refused to discuss the matter with me or offer any explanation other than saying the I had violated their Rules. The process was completely opaque.
@wjjhoge was the Twitter account tied to this blog. After I had been using it for a while, I set up a personal account as well. After @wjjhoge was suspended, I began using that personal account to promote Hogewash!, and I paid advertising fees to Twitter to promote blog posts. Twitter then cancelled that account with no explanation other than “violation” of the Rules—and no refund. In fact, I still receive emails from Twitter offering business services to that suspended account.
A few days after the false criminal charge that Kimberlin filed against me was thrown out, Twitter decided that I could have my @wjjhoge account back. While they did “apologize” for the inconvenience, they would not provide any details of why my accounts were suspended. All the information I have concerning the process has been developed through other sources.
Even though I do not view Twitter as a reliable business partner, I’m still on Twitter because it is remains somewhat useful. However, for the past year I’ve also been on Gab. I have been sufficiently impressed that I’ve invested in the site. If you’re interested in a social medium where the First Amendment really is respected, give Gab a try.