By Melissa Ryan
This week Twitter suspended David Neiwert, author of Alt-America and an investigative journalist who has covered the American far right for decades. According to David, Twitter suspended him over the use of his book cover for Alt-America. The offending image has been his Twitter cover image for ages but now they’ve decided is against their media policy.
The suspension is clearly a mistake that should be easily cleared up but inexplicably it hasn’t. This despite coverage in The Daily Beast, and multiple viral tweets on David’s behalf from journalists and advocates. By now Twitter is aware of David’s situation because The Daily Beast asked them for comment (they declined), but days after the suspension David’s account remains inaccessible. David told me that he refuses to remove the image on principle, something he’s articulated to Twitter as well.
Watching this all unfold, I’ve been struck by the lack of online outrage on David’s behalf. It’s not that people don’t have his back, they do, but no one else has built an outrage engine that’s an ounce as effective as what the America far right has built.
If David were a far-right personality, his plight would be trending on Twitter. Every far-right online community would be posting, meme-ing, brigading and galvanizing support on his behalf. Trolls would harass anyone who dared suggest Twitter had done the right thing suspending his account. A GoFundMe page would be set up on David’s behalf. Fox News would cover the story, possibly in prime time. Elected officials would cite this as another example of how tech platforms are biased against the right. They’d send fundraising emails about it and demand answers from tech executives during hearings. Trump Jr. would absolutely tweet about David and potentially so would Junior’s Dad.
If David were a far-right personality, Twitter would be on the defensive for months. Nothing the company said or did would placate the right, but Twitter would still bend over backwards to appease them.
Getting back to Twitter, the suspension was likely a mistake of automated moderation, but they’re standing by it. David has their explanation up at Daily Kos and it’s every bit as dumb as you’d expect. Especially given how many White Nationalists Twitter still gives free rein to harass and radicalize others on their platform.
If you’d like to learn more about David Neiwert and his work, I recently interviewed him for our Patreon podcast. The recording is now available to anyone. Listen Here.
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