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GREEN: Twitter used to silence conservatives?

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Conservative Chris Loesch, music producer and husband of radio host and CNN contributor Dana Loesch, had his Twitter account suspended on Sunday. He was apparently targeted by leftist users who utilized the “Block & Report Spam” function to trigger the social media account’s automatic spam algorithm. He was notified of his suspension via an email from Twitter claiming it was due to multiple unsolicited mentions to other users. “You will need to change your behavior to continue using Twitter,” the email admonished.

“I never threatened anyone and am careful about being concise with what I write especially in public,” Mr. Loesch told The Washington Times. “They were going to make me sign this note that said one more infraction and I would be permanently banned. I wasn’t going to do that so I wrote emails to some of their people.”

Supporters initiated by fellow conservatives Ben Howe and Jerome Hudson began sending tweets with a “#FreeChrisLoesch” hashtag. Retweets soon had it trending as one of the top 10 messages being sent in the United States. A couple of hours later, his account was reinstated only to be mysteriously suspended again within an hour. So the campaign was renewed, this time asking Twitter to “#FreeChrisLoeschAgain”.

Mr. Loesch believes the spam-reporting campaign was kicked off by comments he made in defense of his wife. “It was business as usual for her I suppose,” he said. “Veiled threats, rape and murder comments, the typical liberal misogynist slag. Being the chivalrous and testosterone filled being I am requires me to protect the woman I love and call out the haters for being the ‘anonymous internet tough guys’ they are…Needless to say they don’t like being called out and struck back by reporting me as a spammer or worse.”

Conservatives suspect a coordinated campaign to report as spam users with whom liberal users disagree. Several users sent out tweets bragging about getting Mr. Loesch blocked, including one claiming “my life job to make conservatives lives miserable.”

If Twitter is indeed using an algorithm that allows user accounts to be reactively suspended according to malicious whims, that’s a threat to free speech for everyone — regardless of individual political views. Though Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Mr. Loesch was told that the company is going to try to create better safeguards to address this issue for the future.

At posting time, Mr. Loesch’s account was still suspended but was reportedly slated to come back online sometime on Monday once Twitter’s engineers were available. How long it will stay up this time remains to be seen.

 

Anneke E. Green is Assistant Editorial Page Editor for The Washington Times. She is on Twitter @AnnekeEGreen.

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