twitter birds locked in cages

Jason Reed/The Daily Dot

The year in Twitter suspensions

Here a ban, there a ban, everywhere a ban.

Dec 16, 2019, 7:59 am*

Tech

Claire Goforth 

Claire Goforth

Twitter is the best of times. Twitter is the worst of times. Wading through the steaming piles of morons, bigots, attention seekers, subtweeters, hypocrites, propaganda and utterly incomprehensible randomness can feel like the internet version of drowning in someone else’s dirty bathwater.

Happily, Twitter tries to take out its own trash, though it also makes mistakes policing content. The social media platform that (permanently suspended) writer Ally Maynard calls “the bathroom stall of the internet” has some standards—threats bad, dick picks okay. Break the rules, and you might find yourself in Twitter jail, from whence you may never return.

This year the platform that brings us laughter, rage, breaking news, and generational slamfests like #OKBoomer has suspended accounts we love, hate and, perhaps best of all, love to hate. Here’s the 2019 highlight/lowlight reel of the best, worst and most bizarre Twitter suspensions of 2019. Is it weird that we miss them? Well, some of them.

2019 strapped together as dynamite with lit fuse

God

No one is exempt from Twitter’s rules—not even God. The @TweetofGod account run by writer-producer David Javerbaum was suspended in June for a tweet supportive of the LGBTQ community. “If gay people are a mistake, they’re a mistake I’ve made hundreds of millions of times, which proves I’m incompetent and shouldn’t be relied upon for anything,” God wrote. Twitter claimed this violated its “rules against hateful conduct.”

Our Heavenly Father was not amused.

After someone actually read the darn thing, the company reversed course, apologized and reinstated the Big Guy, or Gal if you prefer, proving the existence of a higher social media power.

Krassenstein to the second power

Twins Brian and Ed Krassenstein don’t just look, sound, and think alike—they tweet alike, too, mostly at President Donald Trump. At least they did until Twitter snatched the resistance bros’ accounts from them in May. The company claimed that they’d operated fake accounts and purchased followers, which the duo denied.

A few months later, they returned as @2Krassensteins, launching the account with a lengthy thread explaining that they thought Twitter had banned their old accounts, but not them personally, or something. Alas, the good times couldn’t last. They were unceremoniously booted before lunchtime.

Carpe Donktum

The dark lord of MAGA memes, Carpe Donktum (real name Logan Cook), beloved on the right and be-loathed on the left, has made a bit of a habit of getting his Twitter jacked. In May, Carpe Donktum was temporarily suspended after one of the Krassensteins (doesn’t matter which) called upon their followers to report him for posting a photoshopped meme of Trump as a cowboy slapping around CNN reporter Jim Acosta.

Once bitten didn’t make Donktum twice shy, however. In October, he was again temporarily suspended for, Twitter claimed, numerous complaints of copyright violations. The Donktum wasn’t down long, and got his account back before day’s end. Today he can be found tweeting MAGA morsels to his heart’s content … at least for now.

Jacob Wohl

This was truly the year of Jacob Wohl. Scarcely a month went by without news of him scamming immigrants out of thousands of dollars with false promises of getting Trump to do a speech, making up a sex scandal about any Democratic politician someone would pretend to have had an affair with—dominatrix cougar Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is everyone’s favorite—running a fake intelligence agency or five, all while he traveled the world (or pretended to), and begged for gifts on Gab.

Never one to overthink, or even actually think, in February Wohl got kicked off Twitter because he told USA Today that he planned to use the platform for election interference. In July, he returned, resurrecting an account that had been dormant for years. For a few days things were much as they’d been, with him merrily tweeting ill-informed nonsense like only Jacob Wohl can. Then the Daily Dot reported that he was back and *poof* Twitter banished him again. Womp womp.

Andy Ngo

Woe is Andy Ngo. Whining is this dude’s default mode, when he’s not yukking it up while Proud Boys plan a violent attack or pretending to do journalism by selectively editing videos to own the libs. In November, Ngo was suspended for violating Twitter’s policy against hateful conduct when he claimed that the U.S. is one of the safest countries for transgender people, murder rates are lower for trans people and “Black men” are responsible for most murders of trans people.

True to form, Ngo responded to the suspension by complaining a whole lot. That didn’t get him anywhere, so he deleted the tweet.

Weeks later, Ngo, along with partner-in-misinformation Mike Cernovich and Fox & Friends co-host Pete Hegseth, was temporarily suspended again for posting the Pensacola shooter’s manifesto. Just another day spreading hate.

Cursed TikToks

For a time, Cursed TikToks gave us a reason to live. The account posted the cringiest videos made on the platform that is oddly beloved in newsrooms nationwide. In August, the account that brought smiles to so many abruptly and permanently vanished from Twitter. They later told the Daily Dot that Twitter permanently suspended them based on copyright complaints by a company that purchases TikTok video copyrights but wouldn’t tell them which ones.

Happily, Cursed TikToks lives on as @TabooTikToks on Instagram, so we can all feast our eyes on delights like these.

 

Nicolás Maduro

In August, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro became one of the most stunning Twitter shunnings of the year. Amid unrest in the South American country, Twitter suspended Maduro’s English-language account. The account was eventually reinstated; Twitter said it had found no violation of its policies.

To many, the suspension was a signal that Twitter might finally be willing to take action against high-profile politicians and world leaders who break its rules. Can’t imagine who most of them had in mind.

Dolan Dark

Dolan Dark might’ve achieved the ultimate in shitposting when Twitter fell for one of his jokes. The company apparently believed Dark’s bio describing himself as a “12-year-old music critic” and suspended him for being too young to tweet. (You have to be 13 to use the site.)

Dark eventually convinced Twitter that he is not, in fact, 12 years old, and returned to meme his way to internet glory.

Brenden Dilley

For conspiracy theorists like Brenden Dilley, these are the salad days. Every news cycle brings another opportunity to spread lies. QAnon follower Dilley managed to cross a bridge too far for even Twitter when he started circulating false rumors that the El Paso shooter was a member of antifa, among other lies about the mass shooting that claimed 20 lives. Twitter suspended Dilley, and he has yet to return.

Danielle Stella

Running for Congress is hard. It’s even harder when you get permanently locked in Twitter jail. That’s precisely what happened to Danielle Stella, who is challenging Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), when she tweeted that Omar “should be tried for #treason and hanged” if she gave “sensitive info” to Iran.

The claim was apparently based on bogus, unverified stories that Qatar recruited Omar as an asset, according to the New York Times. Stella denied that her tweet was a threat, but Twitter wasn’t buying it. The company refused to budge, releasing a statement that her suspension was based on repeated violations of its policies.

Various state actors

This year, Twitter started taking serious action against government-affiliated accounts. It suspended Iranian state media outlets for allegedly harassing a religious minority; accounts associated with state-sponsored misinformation campaigns originating in Iran, Russia, Spain and Venezuela; and even yanked the account of former Saudi Arabia crown prince adviser Saud bin Abdullah al-Qahtani, who was implicated in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and was also a strategist for a Saudi troll farm tasked with spreading pro-government talking points.

On the other hand, the company also suspended a slew of people who dissented against the Egyptian government during a wave of protests in September, later conceding that many of the suspensions were mistakes.

Chiitan

We saved the weirdest Twitter suspension for last. The unsanctioned mascot of Susaki, Japan is much beloved for sowing chaos and discord wherever it goes. Chiitan’s online antics even earned it praise from John Oliver, who called it “psychotic” but conceded that its often violent tweets were “virtuosic.” In Chiitan’s defense, otters gotta otter.

Chiitan’s millions of fans worldwide–and one million Twitter followers–were mightily disappointed in May when Twitter booted the delightfully bizarre Pokemonesque mascot who delights in smashing things. Chiitan-gate was an extremely complicated dispute involving Japanese tax law, copyrights, and Shinjokun, the official otter mascot of Susaki. (Yes, there are two. No, we don’t know why.) Thousands signed a Change.org petition to rescue the chaotic neutral otter from Twitter jail, sadly all for naught.

Happily, Instagram isn’t quite so particular about who uses its platform.

With all these suspensions, the question becomes: Who won’t Twitter put on lockdown? Well, neo-Nazis and white nationalists for one, which it won’t autoban because too many GOP politicians would get caught up in the dragnet; and American presidents for two.

But maybe 2020 will be different.

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*First Published: Dec 16, 2019, 7:54 am