Everything wrong with Twitter in one story

In their mad flailing about to defeat the bad PR about how their site is a haven for racists and misogynists, while trying carefully to avoid alienating anyone who might be bringing them buckets of money, Twitter managed to ban David Neiwert. You know, the David Neiwert, the journalist who has been carefully documenting the rise of the rabid right for decades, who is no friend to these extremists?

Neiwert shared with The Daily Beast the appeal he sent to Twitter:

“My account was suspended because of the photo of the cover of my book in my profile. This book, ‘Alt-America,’ is a history of the rise of the radical right in the United States over the past 30 years. It naturally has an illustration featuring KKK hoods because that is its subject. I am one of the nation’s leading experts on this subject, and it is insane that you would suspend my account because of this photo. I refuse to remove it on principle.”

Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump was published in 2017 and chronicled the trajectory of far-right and white supremacist groups since the 1990s. Neiwert had used the cover illustration on his Twitter profile without trouble since the book was published.

The problem here is that Twitter insists on implementing the cheapest, most superficial, most easily gamed methods to sniff out bad actors on their medium, meaning that the dishonest thrive and the forthright are silenced. This is not a good sign that they’re getting a grip on the infection they’ve enabled.

I wonder if I’ll get banned for posting the same cover image?


  1. DLC says

    I’m sure I’ll be howled down, but Twitter is a sewer through which occasional gems can be seen, but not often grasped.

  2. JoeBuddha says

    As a long-time IT pro, I’m suspicious of ANY automatic banning algorithm. Computers, in general, just don’t do context.

  3. says

    Gee, who would have thought that having a large corporation dedicated to making money banning people based on content could ever be a bad thing?

  4. dimitryklush . says

    I left Twitter after about a year… 8 or 9 months later I got an email which stated that my account was suspended for the reason of encouraging suicide… I investigated and turns out it is true, I posted “kill yourself” in response to one of Trump’s idiotic posts. It was a simple step to reactivate the account, so I did. Still haven’t twitted anything since I first left, yet about a year after the original email, I got the same email again… LOL, I just let it go.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    … Twitter insists on implementing the cheapest, most superficial, most easily gamed methods …

    I dunno ’bout that: judging from this and so many previous backwards bannings, they may have dedicated the full combined intellectual capacity of their whole top management team to this effort.

    A sorting algorithm implemented on a Commodore Amiga might provide a major upgrade.

  6. F.O. says

    Given Twitter’s volume, moderation can’t be done by humans.
    And I don’t think we can trust a computer to make such a decision.
    Maybe Twitter could figure out a better way, but it would be very expensive.
    I am not sure Twitter’s bottom line is compatible with ethics.

  7. zetopan says

    “I am not sure Twitter’s bottom line is compatible with ethics.”

    I fixed that for you.

  8. zetopan says

    “I am not sure Twitter’s bottom line is [in]compatible with ethics.”

    I fixed that for me. Too bad there isn’t an editing feature here.

  9. says


    Considering the amount of ‘kill yourself’ and more explicit versions of said that women and oppressed groups face on twitter and the effect they have I think they were absolutely in the right to ban you for not taking that down. That is not something that should be allowed period. I know how it has felt to see that on a bad day. Your target may not care but that needs to be policed on twitter for the ones who do suffer from it.

  10. wzrd1 says

    It’s OK, I’m sure that FaceBook won’t do the very same thing…
    Aw fuck.

    There are times I actually consider discussing x-ray laser effects within a current thermonuclear device, something known about since a bit before the 1950’s.
    And actually part of my “insurance packet”.
    Simply, an extension of MAD.
    Just to keep the zany in check.