Monday, July 11, 2016

It's Supposed to be Social Networking, Not Social Censorship

     Whatever few readers I have have probably been curious about my thoughts on the horrific series of shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas and I promise I will weigh in on those terrible events. But of late, namely within the past week, I've been subjected to very heavy censorship, mainly on Twitter. At first, I thought it was Twitter's analytics suffering a series of glitches. My timeline would disappear on the analytics page then it would mysteriously reappear. My impressions (or hits my tweets get) would suddenly tank and this would always seem to coincide with my timeline taking a powder.
     Then a few days ago I discovered they were not glitches, that Twitter's engineering department wasn't fucking up. Quite the contrary, I found out that Twitter's engineering department was working all too well. All this despite Twitter founder Jack Dorsey saying last March, "Nyet, we do not censor, conrades."
     What began opening my eyes as to what was really going on was when I got followed by a person who follows censored Twitter accounts and I began to wonder, "Then why is he following me?" Then I checked his/her timeline (TL) and realized after looking at a graphic displaying the profiles of about a half a dozen censored accounts I was among them.
     Shocked, I began digging deeper and began to discover this was a national movement. In fact, if you do a Google image search using the keywords "censorship, Twitter", you'll be given a staggering array of art done by countless people who are also outraged by Twitter's sudden spelunking into the dark side.
     Then I got followed by another account, a woman who similarly follows other censored accounts and her blog was a real eye opener. The Wage Theft Wedding Dress is a blog that should be required reading by anyone who has a Twitter account or who is deeply disturbed by internet censorship. As her blog's title would suggest, her place was originally dedicated to wage theft but quickly became dedicated full time to Twitter censorship.
     Now, to give you an idea of how suddenly my hits on Twitter have tanked since the Sterling and Castile shootings on July 6th & 7th, look at the two tweets just below this post and note how many retweets and likes both of them got. That's pretty indicative of how popular my feed was during those two days. In fact, one of my James Comey tweets got well over 11,000 hits. On back to back days, I earned well over 27,000 hits each day, over 331,000 for the last 28 days, then suddenly...
     ...poof. Next to nothing.
     And it wasn't for lack of trying. Suddenly, my tweets went from four and five digits down to single and low double digits. Note my missing TL below the bar graph. It's been gone for five consecutive days, by far a new record. Even while using high-ranking hashtags, I'm now relegated to single and double digit status. Something was deeply wrong and this was no mere glitch. I was scaring the shit out of certain people. Me, a guy, after over seven years, with just 1614 followers on Twitter.
     Then I went to this lady's website and my eyes opened much wider.
     Her censorship began when she emailed a San Jose city official to stand against wage theft and found herself immediately censored and by that very official. So she started her own investigating and eventually learned how to check to see if certain accounts have been similarly censored and the results were jaw dropping.
     She began checking out the followings of celebrities such as Morgan Fairchild and that of activists and discovered that one account had 100 censored followers and, guess what? Most of them were African American. They tended to be Black Lives Matters activists and supporters (just like me). Here's another jaw-dropper:
     Some of you political mavens may have heard of an upstart in New York's 19th district with the wonderful name of Zephyr Teachout (as fabulous a name as Krystal Ball). She ran against Andrew Cuomo in a Quixotic attempt to become Governor of New York but her success in NY-19 promises she'll get into Congress this November. Well, my new follower's research led her to make the stunning revelation that Teachout herself has been censored on Twitter and that Chuck Schumer ("D"-Lloyd Blankfein's lap) was involved (I'd strongly recommend watching every brief Youtube video on her page).
     Now, if a leading Democratic congressional candidate can get censored, then the fascist cunts of Twitter would have no problem giving a nobody like me the same treatment. But how can I represent as big a threat as an upstart congressional candidate who won her district's Democratic primary late last month?
     (Now, lest my right wing nut job trolls start jeering about my crying over African Americans, Democrats and liberal social activists getting censored, let me make it known that this censorship is also affecting certain Republican congressional candidates, as well, though not nearly in such large numbers, which alone ought to raise your libertarian hackles. As I said, watch all the videos.)
     This comes during a fortnight during which I've been muzzled on Daily Kos, banned from commenting on Raw Story (note they're no longer on my blogroll) and have had not one but two accounts on Twitter censored while a third one, named after my alter ego Mike Flannigan, had been locked for "displaying automated behavior", which I can simply have lifted by supplying them with a cell phone number that they will just as simply not get.
     So I'm scaring the shit out of a lot of people or pissing them off and this Kafkaesque reprisal has to stop.
     And, no, I'm not going to tolerate any counterargument that Twitter has the right to censor anyone they please and that the First Amendment isn't even an issue. Recall what I'd written a few paragraphs ago about a low level San Jose official censoring my new follower and Chuck Schumer being connected to Zephyr Teachout's own censoring. Public officials, some of them federal officials, are getting Twitter to censor and muzzle certain people who don't toe the line and that makes it a federal crime to get a publicly-traded corporation such as Twitter to censor targeted accounts.
     So yes, Mr. Weekend Lawyer, this IS a First Amendment issue. Big time.

     Then today, one of my other followers remembered an anecdote I'd told him last week. I was amused to discover that one of my latest hits had come from Fox "News", one of my favorite targets both here and on Twitter. Shortly thereafter, the censorship was renewed with a vengeance. He asked me, "Could there be a connection?"
     We've been seeing a rash of censorship on the internet this election season that goes far beyond me. It's affected the Sanders campaign in more ways than one, one of the most egregious examples being the trolling that was done to a dozen Sanders Facebook walls involving death threats and kiddie porn that got them temporarily shut down just hours before a five state mid Atlantic primary.
     It's all very chilling stuff. My hits, retweets, likes and every analytic has taken a serious nosedive though I'm as active there as ever.
     One postscript: You may be wondering why I'd set up an account in Mike Flannigan's name. Well, when the lady with the wage theft wedding dress mentioned that several accounts had been heavily censored of late for up to several months, I decided to set up a new one then start following almost all those I was following on the JP59 account. When I began posting on the new one and using top hashtags, I noted an immediate difference in traffic. In hours, I'd accumulated over 3500 impressions even though I hadn't set up the account until late in the afternoon mere hours before they change over the analytics at 8 PM.
     Then they came down on me like a ten ton hammer, pretending to be concerned I was a spam account for following too many people and demanding my cell phone #.
     So, if on the offchance you have a Twitter account, do some digging and find out if you're censored. I found incontrovertible proof I was. Maybe you're on their social terror watch list, too.


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