Not to be cheered by praise, Not to be grieved by blame, But to know thoroughly ones own virtues or powers Are the characteristics of an excellent man.
- Saskya Pandita, Tibetan Grand Lama of Saskya (1182-1251)
Well wouldn’t you know it? Just as soon as I finished creating a helpful public service announcement on what will and won’t get you suspended on Twitter, I end up getting suspended that very same day.
What was my offense? Well, there were six people whose tweets I featured in that post, so I sent off a single tweet to let them know about their being featured at my blog. It seemed only fair to inform them of their newfound fame, but somehow, there must have been enough crying and complaining between the six of them to where I was given a Twitter timeout.
Twitter is quite fair about it with your first suspension, all you have to do is read the relevant bit of their Terms of Service Agreement and sign off on your understanding of the rules and you’re automatically reinstated. In the process, however, you go from your Twitter starting point of being on probation to being on double-secret probation. Now you’re just one more suspension away from looking at some serious time in the TwitterGulag.
Considering how many millions of tweets are sent daily by people hoping to catch the eyes and maybe even a reply from a celebrity who certainly doesn’t follow them, unsolicited tweets abound all over Twitter, so it’s a pretty nebulous thing to try to define which should be punished, but I think there’s an even larger problem with Twitter’s report spam feature itself, which can be seen as a perfect example of a case where the cure is often worse than the disease itself.
The process of suspensions for spamming is automated and the algorithm does factor in the type of the account that’s being reported so the hammer will come down a lot quicker on a newly created account with no followers than it will come down on an account with a healthy ratios of followers, but the fact still remains that the process is automated, making it rife for abuse and it can only be appealed to a human being after the suspension goes into effect.
And just as surely as every dictator in the world is leftist, so are all the little despots on Twitter who band together to abuse the report spam feature to suspend and silence the voices of those with whom they disagree. The worst of it is, they don’t even feel the need to be clandestine about it, tweeting it out openly as they call on their minions to all pile on with a deluge of false spam reports. They collaborate on these campaigns right out in the open, as they did most famously against Chris Loesch, who was guilty of nothing more than defending his wife against some vile and disgusting comments.
The problem is widespread enough and has gone on for so long as to bring some conservatives to the point of debating whether they should “go nuclear” and use the same tactics of false spam reporting against liberals. Let’s hope conservatives never descend to that level, however. Free speech should reign and TwitterGulag is full enough as it is.
It’s annoying to see tweets on your timeline with links peddling herbal weight loss remedies or MLM / get rich quick schemes, and I think most people appreciate that Twitter has a mechanism for dealing with it, but in my book, a bunch of cybergeek thugs banding together to silence dissent is far more abhorrent than having to skip your eyes over the occasional spam. If there’s a hammer for the spammers, there should be a hammer for the false-flaggers as well.