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The anatomy of a Twitter blocking — my own

After being on the receiving end of a temporary Twitter ban, Ilana Mercer reflects on censorship in the internet age, including being "shadow-banned and follower-throttled".

Published: July 4, 2019, 10:07 am

    Twice have the censors at Twitter kicked me off their anything-but-neutral platform.

    When these arbiters of right and wrong periodically block my Twitter account, visitors to the site will be greeted with a stark warning:

    “Caution. This account is temporary restricted.” The snowflakes will be forewarned of “some unusual activity on the account. Do you still want to view it?” Naturally, the choice offered – to view or not to view – ultimately doesn’t exist. I am told that when you click to avail yourself of the “choice,” my account is nowhere to be seen. Once blocked, you’re invisible.

    The visual that assaults the eye is this one:

    The screen shot was taken by a friend. For when sent to the Twitter doghouse, one is typically barred from accessing Twitter at all, except for fleetingly seeing the notice, “Your account has been blocked.”

    Thereafter, the only thing visible to this untouchable will be a shakedown notice from Twitter’s shameless shysters.

    It’ll be written in millennial syntax, and will read as follows: “Enter a phone number that you would like to associate with your Twitter account.”

    The ransom demand looks like this:

    When they block you, our Twitter overlords seize the opportunity to extract your most personal information.

    Picture Mr. Burns of “The Simpsons” fame, when a plot or a scheme comes together. Mr. Burns minus the charm.

    “Excellent.”

    “We will make the political pariah cough up her most private information, or else she’ll remain in exile.”

    Only, in the case of Twitter, the enforcers are singularly charmless young millennials. The uniformity of the opinion they enforce is scarier than its uninformed nature. Misguided, mediocre and frightfully monolithic minds are monopolizing one of the internet’s most powerful, intellectual means of production: Twitter.

    Twitter technocrats reckon you’re desperate to partake in their consensus-driven enterprise and will thus eagerly part with your most private information. “Confirm your phone number,” comes the next instruction.

    The dissident right has its speech rights curtailed on what are ostensibly neutral, government-protected, social-media platforms. Luckily, the free market still provides us with … burn phones.

    It all sounds so cloak-and-dagger, but nobody in their right mind would part with sensitive information on Twitter or on Facebook. Having always been literally off-the-grid when it comes to my mobile phone (a thing I only acquired in 2017), a burn phone provided me “with partial privacy. Even the NSA can’t track them with accuracy. The secret lies within how prepaid carriers, also known as MVNOs, identify their users – they don’t.”

    Other than “sensitive content-blocked,” I am also “shadow-banned and follower-throttled.” The first means that my #hashtags go nowhere on Twitter other than to my immediate, Twitter followers, mostly.

    As to followers, as someone who has been “sensitive content-blocked,” my followers never increase, but only dwindle by the day. As another victim observed – she tracks the refugee scam and dissects the miseries of diversity – “Twitter has been taking away followers again for weeks now. I will get a spurt of hundreds of new followers, and then they take them away. They don’t have to shadow-ban you; they can just make sure that your follower number stays stagnant until you ask yourself, ‘Why do I bother?’”

    Ditto. The dynamics on my account are identical.

    Gab serves as a convenient control group. On Gab, where there is no blocking, shadow-banning and follower-throttling – my number of followers only ever increases. Isn’t that curious? Admittedly, Gab comprises a less conventional cohort than the Twitter ditto-heads.

    “Wear their contempt as a badge of honor,” exhorted a loyal reader. “At least you know you’re doing something right.” I’ve never doubted it. Still, while not hugely dispiriting, being powerless and right is not much of a consolation.

    Establishment conservatives will get together on Fox News to grate on about how “libtards” are making them sad by calling them Nazis. Conservatism Inc., however, is seldom blocked or deplatformed. And they certainly don’t stand up for those on the dissident right who are.

    As for President Donald J. Trump: Anchor Tucker Carlson suggested that POTUS has done precious little to stop the intimidation, firing, hounding, de-platforming, doxing and marginalizing of those who do not revel in the warm smell of the herd.

    Tucker did, nevertheless, try to steer Trump, urging that he “would be remembered as a ‘genuinely great’ president if he fought for free speech.”

    Fat chance.

    In taming and claiming the political landscape, social-media tyrants fancy themselves exemplars of enlightenment. But those who hoist their pixelated pitchforks to purge ideological disagreement, Soviet-style, they are the enemies of civilization.

    In case I am ever permanently removed from the grubby cyber-reality that is Twitter, you can find me on Gab: https://gab.com/ILANAMERCER

    Subscribe to the Ilana Mercer Mailing List: http://www.ilanamercer.com/mailing-list/

    —And, many thanks in advance to those who’ve “Liked” and “Shared” my Facebook Author Page, in support of work that is now in its 20th year.

    ilana.mercer@freewestmedia.com

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