On Tuesday night, I was informed by Twitter that a story I broke on the platform about Antifa announcing plans on Twitter to attack a TPUSA event at the University of Oregon had violated its rules.
“Your account has been locked,” reads the notice when I log in. “We have determined that this account violated the Twitter Rules. Specifically for: 1. Violating one of our Rules.” What rule that is is not stated.
The tweet in question said exactly this: “#Antifa in Eugene, Ore. have announced plans to attack a @TPUSA campus event today featuring black speakers @Stephend176 & @AWatsonOLY. Antifa tell their members to wear black uniforms & masks (bloc), & to assault their targets. cc: @ellagirwin.”
Ella Irwin is the head of Twitter’s trust and safety. I included a screenshot of a live tweet by one of the Antifa accounts advertising the violent direct action and a flyer for the TPUSA event. I also included a link to the URL of the tweet in question so that Twitter Safety and my followers can see the original post in context.
Twitter removed this tweet for unspecified rule violations
That tweet is part of my daily reporting on Twitter where I routinely post screenshots and links to primary evidence of far-left violent extremist accounts using Twitter to incite, organize or praise violence. Using this style of short breaking news reporting on Twitter about Twitter, some extremist accounts I helped shed light on were subsequently suspended since Elon Musk’s takeover last year.
When logged in to Twitter, these were the options presented to Andy Ngo
But now, for unclear reasons, reporting on extremist content appears to also fall foul of unspecified “Twitter rules.” Within minutes of my account being locked, a series of other news tweets I posted within the last few days were also removed.
A follow-up post in a thread about the TPUSA Oregon event posted screenshots of two other live tweets calling for an “all out” attack on the event. I again tagged Ms. Irwin and included the URL of one of the extremist posts.
This tweet was removed by Twitter
While trying to figure out what had happened, I saw that tweet after tweet of my reporting on Antifa from the last few days was being nuked for unknown reasons. My Twitter wall currently looks like this:
Several accounts with large followings brought attention to my conditioned suspension leading to Ms. Irwin responding in a tweet: “We want users to report tweets that incite violence through our reporting flow so we can remove them. You can post redacted versions of the tweets but posting the threat in full, without redaction just amplifies the incitement further and impacts our ability to prevent harm.”
The position stated by Ms. Irwin sounds fair but doesn’t issue guidelines on what exactly to censor if posts are indirect or subtle in their incitement to violence. For example, some violent extremists will use emojis of fire and bricks, or the (toy) gun. Some simply post publicly available information about a target (e.g., a business or charity address) with the statement, “You know what to do.” In those instances, what should I censor, especially if the tweets are still live?
Reporting a tweet violation on Twitter through the built-in option means it can remain online for days and weeks, spreading among militants while keeping those outside of those silos in the dark. It also gives the extremists an opportunity to delete the posts in order to hide that they ever existed. And without being able to produce uncensored evidence of the far-left’s violent extremism on social media, how could the public be made aware of the severity of threats?
For posterity, here are the remaining three posts that were removed for unspecified violations.
A tweet posted on Monday reported out that the violent extremist Minneapolis account, “@MnUrising” urged comrades to mask up and attack Jordan Peterson’s speaking events in the city. “Peterson is a transphobic, alt-right mouthpiece who should be afraid to show his face,” tweeted @MnUrising. The account had previously called for “terrorizing” oppressors in a tweet targeting the U.S. Supreme Court. I included those screenshots and tagged Ms. Irwin.
This tweet posted on Feb. 6 was removed by Twitter for an unknown violation
Additionally, tweets posted with examples of militant trans activists making threats of violence on Twitter were removed. A user named “@TotalTimWright” called for armed conflict against “transphobic” people, who he calls fascists, in a response to leftist trans live streamer Clara Sorrenti, also known as “Kefalls.” A Nov. 2022 screenshot from banned Los Angeles Antifa member Vishal Singh was also included in that tweet.
This tweet posted has been removed by Twitter
And as of this writing, the last tweet that was removed by Twitter was my post on Feb. 7 about Singh’s comments on Mastodon against professional surfer Bethany Hamilton, a survivor of a 2003 shark attack who announced this week she would not compete against biological males. Singh wrote that he hopes other “TERFs” (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) suffer being maimed or killed.
This tweet was removed by Twitter
Twitter’s removal of these tweets has serious implications on counter-extremism reporting on the platform. Locking out journalists and removing tweets that present primary evidence of violent extremism on Twitter would chill reporting on the subject, in addition to leading to a proliferation of more violent extremist posts that avoid explicit language.
Indeed, immediately after being locked out, accounts sympathetic to Antifa are calling for platform manipulation through mass reporting my posts.
An Antifa supporter is suggesting platform manipulation to try to get Andy Ngo banned on Twitter
This isn’t the first time that far-left activists have organized efforts to get me kicked off Twitter using duplicitous means. Throughout the 2020 BLM-Antifa riots, Antifa videographers filed baseless copyright complaints with Twitter because I had retweeted them. They did this in order to gather strikes on my account and to limit the reach of their incriminating videos. In November that year, two Antifa activists in Portland even filed a federal copyright lawsuit against me on the same allegation of retweeting them. They withdrew the frivolous lawsuit after a few days.
Under Elon Musk, Twitter has benefited from what appears to be a more equal application of suspensions for violent extremist accounts. They include violent extremist Los Angeles Antifa member and influencer Chad Loder, propaganda and extremist site It’s Going Down, and crime-instructing collective Crimethinc. But clearly, Twitter Safety isn’t operating as it should if journalists who report out extremist posts on Twitter are treated the same way as those actually doing the incitement.
Ms. Irwin says violent extremist posts should be reported as a violation through Twitter’s built-in reporting feature and censorship of screenshots. It will not “prevent harm,” as she says, but rather will prevent the public’s awareness of what is really happening on some sections of the platform while allowing extremists who share and like those threats to remain online.
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