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.

OBVIOUSLY IT WAS THIS TWEET

CLEARLY IT IS THE RED DELICIOUS APPLE LOBBY THAT HAS PUT ME HERE

SCREW YOU, LIAR APPLE, YOU FRUIT JUDAS

I WILL SPEAK MY TRUTH AND WILL NOT BE SUPPRESSED

(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.

OKAY SEE YOU IN FIVE HOURS, FRANDOS

(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