Having written before about Twitter’s nasty penchant for censoring and outright banning users who deviate from the company’s rigid left wing ideology, I fully expected the Twitter thought police to come for me. Milo Yiannopoulos warned as much.
I just didn’t expect them this soon.
Late Friday afternoon: friends on Twitter started complaining that they couldn’t see my tweets. Daddy Warpig placed the blame on a shadowban.
NB: if you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a shadowban, it’s an unofficial and highly passive-aggressive method that Twitter uses to censor people who disagree with them, but who haven’t broken any rules. By keeping the shadowbanned user’s followers from seeing his tweets or even notifications from him, Twitter can say it’s a bug and maintain plausible deniability.
Shadow bans usually last for 24; sometimes 48 hours.
Mine was still in effect a day later.
Keep in mind, this whole time I hadn’t received any communication from Twitter. No prior warnings, no notice of a TOS violation, no explanation of what was happening or why. Nothing.
This wasn’t a surprise, since it perfectly fits the kind of arbitrary censorious behavior that conservative and libertarian users have sadly come to expect from Twitter. I’m neither a conservative nor a libertarian, but Twitter just puts everyone to the right of Chairman Mao into the same badthink box.
The censorship continued through Sunday and into today. Lasting longer and with more extensive effects than ever before, this represents a new form of Deep Shadowban.
Brand visibility is a matter of life and death for a writer’s career. Until quite recently, deplatforming an author could only hurt his career. That’s clearly what Twitter was banking on, but for a social network they’re pretty mired in analog thinking.
The shadowban’s main effect has been to piss my followers off.
I can’t blame them for getting mad when conversations that look like this to me:
look like this to them:
But it’s the unintended side effects that should really make Twitter rethink the wisdom of shadowbans, especially in this age of antifragility.
My number of followers before the shadowban: 970.
My number of followers now: 1,033 and counting.
And has this whole messy business helped me sell books?
You bet 🙂
I’m not upset with Twitter for censoring me. Like a small but growing number of independent authors, that only makes me richer and stronger.
I am upset that my readers are upset. I answer to them; never to Twitter. So I’d appreciate it if Twitter would kindly stop belaboring my bosses’ social media experience.
Of course, I expect Twitter to double down. Again. They enjoy making people weaker than them miserable. Let’s see how they like it when the tables are turned.