Ron Watkins with inset 'SecOfDef in Ron Watkins [CodeMonkeyZ] Chat - Daniel [5344048248] used a banned word. Action: Banned until 29/05/2023 01:34. May 28 at 19:34'

Gage Skidmore/Flickr codemonkeyzchat/Telegram (CC-BY-SA)

Ron Watkins keeps a secret list of banned words that will get you booted from his Telegram chat

Nobody seems to know what those words are.

 

Claire Goforth

Tech

Ron Watkins holds himself out to be something of a free speech absolutist. The Arizona Republican congressional candidate often praises the First Amendment and decries any regulation of speech.

That doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want on his Telegram chat, however. There’s a list of forbidden words, the use of which results in an automatic ban.

Unlike George Carlin’s famed bit about the seven words you can’t say on television, nobody seems to know what words are forbidden in Watkins’ chat.

Watkins is widely believed to have played the part of Q, the supposed government insider whose posts on his father’s platform 8kun gave rise to the QAnon conspiracy theory about Satanic, blood-drinking pedophiles running the world. The last “Q drop” occurred within days of Watkins announcing he was stepping down as administrator of 8kun.

After leaving 8kun, Watkins continued spreading lies about election fraud and various conspiracy theories on his Twitter account. Then the platform banned him in the wake of the Capitol riot.

Since then, he’s grown a massive following on Telegram, where subscribers tune in for the same type of open-ended questions that whoever pretended to be Q also posted.

Watkins maintains one Telegram channel strictly for his own missives and another where subscribers can also post. He promotes the latter and has described it as his “associated chat channel.”

Watkins professes to loathe censorship of any kind, once writing, “Tyrannical leaders despise free speech.”

Like many who’ve been permanently suspended from Twitter, Watkins cheered Elon Musk’s plan to buy the platform. “Mark my words, this will end with FULL restoration of free speech,” he wrote of Musk’s interest in Twitter in April.

But when it comes to his own chat room, he doesn’t seem to have any problem restricting speech.

A search of his chat channel, Ron Watkins [Code Monkey Z] Chat, shows that 40 people have been automatically banned for using a certain word or words in recent weeks.

The year-long bans are enacted by a bot called “SecOfDef.”

In Body Image
Ron Watkins/Telegram

Subscribers don’t seem to have any idea what word or words are banned.

“What are the banned words? Not tryin to get booted,” one wrote recently.

The bot appears to have been created in the last few months. In March, a subscriber wondered, “What’s a banned word?” There’d previously been no mention of banned words.

Since then, many others have asked the same question.

In Body Image
Ron Watkins/Telegram

Neither Watkins’ main account nor his chat shows a list of what words earn subscribers an automatic ban.

Watkins didn’t reply to an email Thursday afternoon about whether and what words are prohibited from his Telegram chat, and how he justifies prohibiting such terms in light of his views on free speech.

Posts with racist, sexist, homophobic and other bigoted terms don’t seem to earn subscribers a ban, as various derogatory terms and slurs are easily searchable in the chat.

Users are similarly allowed to call for violence or executions, and even make baseless accusations that Watkins’ father is a pedophile. (He has reportedly admitted to profiting off child porn websites.)

At this point, subscribers will just have to guess what they can or can’t say according to Watkins’ rules.


Read more of the Daily Dot’s tech and politics coverage

Nevada’s GOP secretary of state candidate follows QAnon, neo-Nazi accounts on Gab, Telegram
Court filing in Bored Apes lawsuit revives claims founders built NFT empire on Nazi ideology
EXCLUSIVE: ‘Say hi to the Donald for us’: Florida police briefed armed right-wing group before they went to Jan. 6 protest
Inside the Proud Boys’ ties to ghost gun sales
‘Judas’: Gab users are furious its founder handed over data to the FBI without a subpoena
EXCLUSIVE: Anti-vax dating site that let people advertise ‘mRNA FREE’ semen left all its user data exposed
Sign up to receive the Daily Dot’s Internet Insider newsletter for urgent news from the frontline of online.
Share this article

*First Published:

 
The Daily Dot