Hi, Dad, I’m In (Twitter) Jail

So, this morning I woke up to find that I had been put in Twitter Jail for *checks notes* five hours. And I was put there because *checks notes* hell, I don’t know. They didn’t tell me. They didn’t ask me to delete any tweets, they didn’t give me a sense of what rule I broke, or when, or what offending tweet had caused the world such pain.

Curiously, it tells me I can send DMs to my followers — but, that’s actually untrue. I try to send a DM and it just gives me a vigorous reminder of my lockout.





(I stole that joke from author Allison Dickson, FYI.)

I can of course guess at what put me here — over the weekend, just at the cusp of the Kavanaugh vote, I did a tweetstorm about civility — the initiating tweet has since had 17,000 shares. Which also means it ended up drawing the attention of a series of weepy right-wing-celebrity clowndicks, including but not limited to, Ben Shapiro, James Woods, Dinesh d’Souza, Curt Schilling. It also unleashed a high tide of septic idiots, 95% of them bots or sock puppets, to harass me (often to call me some variant of “soy” or “cuck,” which is the most diapery, baby-boo-boo insult they’ve yet come up with, one based in all sorts of disproven dumdum ideas about masculinity). I blocked many hundreds of abusive users, reporting most of them — a fraction of which, Twitter dealt with, most, they did not. I also received various threats, which is always fun. (One semi-threat said that if I wanted to pull an Anthony Bourdain, they’d buy me the rope. How polite! Like Mister Rogers said, always look for the helpers.) Then the Comicsgate/Gamergate media got a hold of it and suggested I was calling for violence against Trump supporters, which takes a particularly special lack of reading comprehension to get there considering I wrote this tweet specifically to put that idea out of anyone’s heads. All this, plus the standard calls for Disney to fire me from Star Wars, which is maaaaaybe a little misguided, because Disney doesn’t employ me. I’m not an employee of Disney or LFL or Marvel. I am there on a case-by-case freelance basis. Further, the income I get from that work is, presently, insert Unkar Plutt voice, a very tiny portion of my actual YTD.)

Aaaaand then, a Twitter suspension.

Of five hours.

For unspecified, unnamed tweets I don’t even have to delete.

(I will note that I did delete two tweets out of that thread on Sunday, not because I disagreed with them or thought them problematic, but rather, because those two tweets had become the funnel for harassment. They were the gateway, and I was hoping to shut it down.)

Obviously, if I misstepped somewhere in a way I’m not aware of, I’m genuinely sorry to anyone I might’ve upset. It’s hard to see what that was, or would be, however, in part because Twitter won’t even tell me what I did wrong.

So, this is a good reminder that:

a) Twitter is an arbitrary company with a great product and shitty enforcement tools that routinely allow for the worst among users to thrive and for others to get caught up in brute force suspensions driven by those same worst users

b) You do not own your tweets or anything you put on Twitter (trust me on this one, I have practical experience on that), and so you should always have a centralized backup that you own and control

c) Twitter has one helluva bot/sock puppet/troll problem, and won’t address it

d) This is not a first amendment issue, and I won’t frame it as such — despite the ironic fact that the same dipshits who probably mob-reported me would exclaim exactly that upon their own suspensions. Twitter can do whatever it wants. It can ban me arbitrarily for posting too many heirloom apple reviews. (YOU’LL NEVER STOP ME.) Twitter, again, is an amazing service governed by a shit company with zero ethos

e) This country is in dire fucking straits, and my call for a lack of civility remains true, no matter who that offends — which, arguably, is the point. Civility means saying things that aren’t troublesome, that don’t upset the balance, that acquiesce to abusive powers. And make no mistake, these powers are abusive. Children in cages, abusers and criminals at the highest levels of government, a willful acceleration of climate change, voter suppression, Russian meddling, tax breaks for the richest while the poor and middle-class continue to flounder… well, that list goes on and on. And both social media — and mass media — are helping to aggravate that problem rather than grapple with it, because it is advantageous to them to do so. A civil response is a complicit response. We must not be civil. Again, to be clear, violence isn’t the answer, either — but you don’t have to be polite in your protests. You don’t have to curtail vulgar language. They’ll reframe any protest you make as being uncivil, down to the notion that they will call protesting itself an uncivil act. Don’t buy it. Stand up, be counted, make your voice heard as loudly and as firmly as you must.

And to reiterate —

Do not rely on Twitter to be your pal.

This is doubly true if you’re a creator of any stripe — do not, not, not, use Twitter or IG or FB as your Authorial Homebase. Don’t do it. They own it. You don’t. If it goes away, either because it shuts down or because they shut you down, you’ve just cut off a vital avenue.

Find a place to call yours, and own it. I see too many authors with disused websites — or no website at all! — and they rely solely on someone else’s social media service to exist and conduct marketing and professional work. Be wary of that approach.


(Related: another sci-fi author, Patrick Tomlinson, was fully suspended, and you can read his account of how that happened at his site.)

p.s. vote like hell in November

36 responses to “Hi, Dad, I’m In (Twitter) Jail”

  1. Thank you for using your platform so generously to speak out about the ills that are currently facing this country. You remain an inspiration despite your seething hatred of red apples.

  2. I used to use Twitter a lot. Now I don’t. Your post is a good reminder why not. I don’t know that any social media site makes any kind of good base anymore. You heard G+ is being shut down? I liked it there, so of course it must be killed. *sigh*

  3. OK, that’s weird. Five hours? That sounds to me like a slap on the wrist to placate the ravening hoards (hords? whords?) calling for your (Twitter) death. Do you feel chastened? At all? Well, go forth and blog!

  4. I’ve shared your post on Twitter – obviously 😉 Your wise words about authorial platform are most welcome. Thank you.

  5. I know when I think, “Chuck Wendig” I think, “Oh, the violent guy commanding his minions to destroy all who oppose the beard!” Not the guy who wrote a bunch of stuff, found a following through his words and willingness to chat with people…that guy who has always trumpeted being a decent human.

    Damn you, Wendig and your sinister ways! 😉

  6. Thank you for the shout out, Chuck. I too am back in Twitter jail for [checks watch] seven hours. I’ve come to the same conclusions you have. Twitter is an awesome platform run by either morons or people who will do anything to avoid accountability for what they’ve created. Not mutually exclusive, I suppose. Use it only as a conduit to drive readers to platforms you have more control over.

        • Hey, same! I’m a TV writer and was permanently banned for… um… something…? They never told me. I tried to evade the ban, and they found me. Then I thought like a spy, and they haven’t found me yet. Although I can’t be myself on there. What Twitter does is such nonsense. They are enabling these trolls to mass-report and get people banned. And the trolls remain.

  7. I don’t do twitter. Because as always I think there’s a nuance here. And twitter is to nuance as a hammer is to a nut.

    If by “not being civil” you mean being loud and angry and not backing down – then hell yeah FUCK CIVILITY!

    However, if that devolves into puerile name calling, pettiness and meanness – then we need civility. If “not civil” means not listening, into not communicating, into not educating – then we need civility.

    Most of all if “not civil” keeps the 100 million who didn’t vote on the sidelines because they’re confused, frightened, disgusted or whatever then FUCK ME, WE NEED SOME CIVILITY HERE!

    The best part of Michael Moore’s 11/9 movie was the guy talking about democracy in America. We’re not there yet. It’s an aspirational goal.

    We need that 100 million people to vote – however they vote. Until we have more than say 10% voting (pulled that figure out of my ass) we need to figure out how to solve THAT problem.

    Anger will get some of ’em. Passion will get some of ’em. But we need to encourage the disenfranchised to vote…

    Just my 2 cents worth – and probably worth less than that…

    • If there are people who are dissuaded from voting by a lack of civility, I think they’re a very small minority. The polls I’ve seen show the #1 reason people give for not voting is not having time, even beating the old “both parties are the same” and other variations of not wanting to vote for any of the options.

  8. And you didn’t get your one phone call? Anyway, you’re plenty masculine obviously bots and sock puppets have zero gender recognition skills. Sad.

  9. Disagreeing with Curt Shilling and James Woods is like telling me you didn’t like The Emoji Movie. I don’t need to hear why. In those instances, you are always going to be correct no matter what.

  10. And yet POTUS 45 (the fake president) continues to use it as a tool for bullying and belittlement. what a fucking joke. I actually boycotted twitter when he became president for this very reason. Just think, if nobody used it. it would GO AWAY. vote with your apps and for the love of God and all things good – VOTE THIS IDIOT OUT OF OFFICE. Have a great day! – from Canada

  11. Stand tall, fight the good fight mate. And stick it to those right wing, red delicious loving aRse hat, sock puppets, (obviously I’m Australian, where we have our own arsehole in charge.) PS. Nicest apple I ever had was a variety called a Bonza. It appeared for one season and then vanished again. I blame the bastards from the red delicious lobby.

    • Try a Mariri Red. It’s a Braeburn mutation which is crisp, juicy and sweet, and all around Best Red Apple (being from NZ, obvs.).

      Regarding civility, I think it’s like tolerance – not a good thing in and of itself (depends what you’re tolerating. Other cultures? Good. Domestic abuse? Bad) but it all depends on how you define civility. Is it about acting like an adult, or is it being nicey-nice?

      When people start shouting or swearing at me, I stop hearing what they’re saying. The mental mute goes on. So I don’t shout and swear at people when I’m trying to convince them of something. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to excise from my speech anything that might be unwelcome or give offense – not if it’s something that needs to be said. The content may be considered rude, but the delivery doesn’t have to be.

  12. Same thing will happen to you on Facebook. I have a right wing troll who’s harassed me for going on 14 years now (despite being referred twice to the FBI and earning actual visits and warnings) who has a following, who likes to gang-report me there – two 30-day suspensions there this year. I now ONLY post to friends, which means that “friends of friends” who may be on my blocked list (this is how the wingnut scum get at me) can’t read my posts anymore. Also new people who might be actual friends cannot, but I think I have enough “friends” there anyway (at least they all buy my books).

    Personally, outside of how easy the internet makes actual research nowadays, I’m not all that convinced that the past 30 years of “progress” have been all that progressive.

  13. The tweet-thread you’re referencing was terrific! “Civility”, like “logic”, is a TOOL, but many people treat them like they are religions in and of themselves. In politics, GOP is uncivil on every possible level to the farthest extent it can get away with it and only starts yammering about “civility” when pushback becomes overwhelming. When Republican/rightwing voices start calling for “civility” it means they’re on the ropes. Keep them there.

  14. Not to be that person, but this is why I won’t go anywhere near Twitter. It’s just become this toxic shout fest for people with no focus, ethics or clue (like our president). Don’t even have an account, even if it’s to the detriment of my writing career. Is it to the detriment of my writing career? No clue, I have no parallel univerise where I’m a Twitter media darling and have sold a million novels to compare my current experience to.

    I think you made a good point about not just relying on social media to get our stuff out there. I go through alternate more old school channels like boards and story pitches.

  15. Keep up the good work, Chuck, you dirty Twitter criminal you. I was debating on whether to sign up for Twitter for future work purposes (trying to get into journalism and become an Enemy of the Country ). I see the benefits but man, the ugliness of it….

  16. Maybe you should rant in caps several times a day & include nonsense words and phrases. Unfortunately we, ahem, know THOSE people never get placed in the Twitter pokey……

  17. This kind of talk of civility always puts me in mind of the parts of Martin Luther King’s writing that people like to ignore. The parts about people who prefer order to justice and negative peace to positive peace.

    “First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

    “Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”

    I think it’s important for people to keep talking about these issues. There will always be trolls and other people acting in good faith, but you never know how many people are staying silent but thinking about what’s being said.

  18. Boo fuck. Also, how is being labeled the delicious precursor to roasted edamame with sea salt supposed to be an insult? The right-wingers self-own so often it’s barely amusing any more. Oy.

  19. If it’s any consolation, I bought another of your books specifically because of those tweets, so there’s 1+ against an army of bots.

  20. After reading through the TwitterStorm, I was amazed by how many people never really advanced beyond Junior High School.

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