I guess I should take this as a badge of honor; the day I always knew was coming arrived yesterday as Twitter unceremoniously suspended my account. I was notified on email that I ran afoul of their “community standards”; five years of amassing nearly 9,000 followers was snuffed out in a nanosecond. I could feign a stoic disposition and make it seem like I was not affected by Twitter’s decision; the reality is that I was stunned and disheartened realizing that the virtual community I built up was eradicated because I offended a random minder’s sensibilities.
The tweet that led to Twitter revoking my access is an article I posted that called out the minstrel show that is Joy-Ann Reid. I admit, I wrote that article in a bit of pique after witnessing Joy-Ann outdo herself as she dutifully defended her fellow neoliberal troll Neera Tanden and went after anyone who did not share her disposition. However, what I wrote—though it pushed the envelope—was not in any way threatening to Joy-Ann nor did I cross some moral threshold that warranted my debarment. In fact, what I wrote was mild compared to the vile rhetoric that Joy-Ann herself traffics on a regular basis.
1/x From 2007 to 2009 @joyannreid authored a dozen homophobic posts not only attempting to out Charlie Crist as gay, she attacked & mocked him for being so.
She repeatedly referred to him as "Miss Charlie" and tagged posts about him under "gay politicians." (thread) pic.twitter.com/tRYvJ3lTc8
— Free Britney (@Jamie_Maz) November 30, 2017
Alas, I am not in the club thus the unequal treatment. You see, like Animal Farm, all of us are equal except pigs who talk out of two sides of their mouths and speak with forked tongues are more equal than others. In a country that supposedly honors freedoms of speech and revers free-expression, to be given the Joseph Stalin treatment as my existence was erased from Twitter’s cloud network is an appalling abrogation of our rights. As much as I want to express shock like I’m Captain Renault in a casino, the truth is that pervasive censorship and suppression of independent journalists is not an outlier but the norm.
Social media corporations are colluding to quash truth-tellers and quell a rising tide of resentment from the broader public against the establishment. Instead of maintaining their platforms and ensuring quality of service, Twitter, Facebook and Google are engaging in a mix of dangerous Big Brotherism and malicious paternalism. There was a time where the marketplace of ideas determined winners and losers; cancel cultures were not needed because consumers decided who should be heard and who should be ignored. Those days are long gone; now we have technocrats in San Francisco, Menlo Park and Mountain View making decisions for us. We have literally become the United Stasi of America.
— MediaResearchCenter (@theMRC) January 16, 2021
This is personal for me beyond just getting my feelings hurt over losing thousands of followers; what occurred yesterday evening reminded me of the repression that took place in Ethiopia that led to an eventual exodus from my birthland. I grew up in a time where someone’s liberty could be denied by a random thug pretending to be a public servant; everyone walked on eggshells afraid to become another statistic. Ethiopians were expected to be in “good standing” at all times; anyone who ran afoul of those amorphous standards was disappeared and never heard from again.
In America, disappearing happens by way of suspensions and bans. The amorphous benchmark we are expected to upkeep at all times here in the land of endless opportunities are Orwellian “community standards”; anyone who crosses a boundary that is undefined is dealt with severely as we are banished to the hinterlands and severed from the connections we established over the years. There is no one to call or email; our only appeal is to click on a link, explain our predicament and hope that someone will actually read our request for clemency. The only feedback we received is an automated email that tells us that they will get back to us in a couple of weeks.
As an independent journalist, this is especially harmful to my line of work. Close to 30% of all traffic at this website arrives by way of Twitter, the vast majority attributed to my personal Twitter account that is no more. Twitter, Facebook and Google have already made it nearly impossible for voices like mine to be heard; a decade’s worth of draconian censorship combined with algorithm based exclusion has taken its toll on our ability to reach a broader audience. Deplatforming only adds to the pain as nearly ten thousand people who followed my work have been whittled down to zero.
I now join my friend Politics Peach in Siberia as we become outcasts for having the temerity to speak our truths. I know there are some who will get a good laugh out of this and revel in the schadenfreude of it all. It’s always fun until the source of guffaws gets pushed down our throats. I warned a long time ago, like many others did, that going after people like Alex Jones and even Donald Trump would be used as a pretext by social media conglomerations to go after others. My once theory became my present reality; I have joined Twitter’s growing body count that rivals the bodies Snoop and Omar had to their names on the Wire.
I have two choices, I can sulk or I can get to work. I decided this morning to opt for the latter choice and get back on the horse after getting bucked by Twitter. I set up a new account, @TeodroseWrites, it is my hope that you follow me there and let others know as well so that I can regain a fraction of the followers I once had. My wife @BettyBeke told me yesterday that closed doors lead to the quest to find new windows of opportunity, here is to resilience and defiance in the face of fascism. #BannedByTwitter Click To Tweet
“Censorship is advertising paid by the government.” ~ Federico Fellini
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