The mob has struck again – this time removing Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes from Twitter. The move was done a couple days before Unite the Right 2 happened in Washington, DC. Via Buzzfeed.
The company suspended the group’s main account @ProudBoysUSA, as well as that of its founder Gavin McInnes, for violating its policy on “violent extremist groups.” The company also took down several regional accounts associated with the organization.
“We can confirm that these accounts have been suspended from Twitter and Periscope for violating our policy prohibiting violent extremist groups,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
I had to do some research into what, if any, violent rhetoric McInnes may have uttered with the only possible instances being an endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Alt Knights and apparently saying, “When they go low, go lower. Mace ’em back, throw bricks at their head. Let’s destroy them. We’ve been doing it for a while now and I gotta say, it’s really invigorating.” Where McInness made the statement is questionable. DePaul University claims it happened during a speech and NYU while Canada’s National Post says it was in a video for Rebel Media. All we know is it wasn’t on Twitter.
The endorsement of FOAK happened on social media – but the question is where. Britain’s HOPE not Hate posted a screenshot of a 2017 tweet claiming McInnes gave the a-OK to FOAK, but McInnes’ own Proud Boys article features a Facebook screenshot.
The distinction is key because a Facebook screenshot obviously isn’t the same as Twitter. One would think McInnes’ comment on Facebook wouldn’t be in violation of Twitter’s terms of service regarding violence – as Twitter is complaining.
McInnes was accused of making homophobic tweets (NSFW) by the account Hoarsewhisperer. Of course, I’m not exactly sure how homophobic the cited tweet can be if McInnes was simply pointing out Milo Yiannopoulos is now married to a black man. It’s certainly vulgar, but not homophobic.
So it doesn’t make sense for Twitter to suspend McInnes’ account for “violent rhetoric” if none on Twitter can be found. It only shows Twitter’s handling of suspensions needs work and their appeals process needs to be fixed as soon as possible. It might be why people are slowly leaving Twitter.
McInnes’ solution to his Twitter ban is simple: we need more government. Via Breitbart:
“I interviewed Alex Jones this week, I dedicated an episode on my show to him and he said “you’re next!” and he was talking about me, but all conservatives, and 24 hours later, I was next. I think the future is socialism, the future is Tucker Carlson getting on a plane and being tapped on the shoulder and being told he has to get off the plane, and that’s already happened with ICE agents, by the way, they’re told they can’t use certain airlines. We’re going to be kicked out of hotels, it’s already happening with restaurants, so utilities follows after that and that includes web hosters y’know they’re trying to get rid of [social media network] Gab and yes, of course, Breitbart is next on the chopping block, of course Daily Caller, Daily Wire, they will attack the hosts for those and try to make sure they can’t have that site and they’ll make up a ‘unite the right’ story to justify it.”
Breitbart News Editor Amanda House asked McInnes: “What needs to happen? Is it Congress stepping in, is it people just getting off these platforms altogether?”
McInnes replied: “Trump has to stand up and say ‘this is not the free market, this is collusion with the DNC and big business and big tech and that’s illegal, that’s unamerican, that’s not acceptable.’ The whole reason that InfoWars was shut down was because the DNC saw him as a threat, the whole reason me and the Proud Boys were shut down is because the DNC hated our millennial appeal. We can’t have the DNC deciding how big companies behave, that’s called fascism.”
A reminder to the alleged libertarian McInnes. Twitter is a private company which can do what it wants. The company has the ability to associate with whoever it wants – meaning it can decide to remove those it doesn’t want on its platform. Its methods may be selectively and hypocritically enforced, but it is up to Twitter executives to answer why they decide to remove McInnes and keep other unseemly accounts active. Those answers will have to come from shareholders and news organizations – both mainstream and new media.
The only way it becomes “illegal” is if there’s evidence Twitter is acquiescing to the orders of the government to remove accounts or censor speech. Then the punishment should come down on the government via a lawsuit or election, while Twitter suffers the ignominy of losing users. Look at how many people left Yahoo after it was revealed they cooperated with the NSA and then suffered the massive hack of millions of users. The free market works – even if it is slower than any of us want it to be. The last thing the government should get involved in is social media.
A few exit questions to those who want to see the government exert some kind of control over Twitter: What happens when the opposition gets into power and decides to modify the regulations of social media? Would you be okay if the regulations included allowing a government monitor of all direct messages or even tweets while they’re being written? Or would that be a bridge too far?
I don’t think McInnes should have been removed from Twitter, but I sure as, um, crap don’t want government power over social media. Those who claim to want limited government shouldn’t be in favor of it either. We don’t need, “Big Brother is Watching You,” more than we already have in America. Inviting government into social media governance only encourages it.
Update: An embedded tweet with NSFW content has been removed, but a link to it put in its place.