1 Hello, tweeps. You might have been wondering where I was. (Or not missed me - that's okay, too.) So let me tell you about my run-in with Twitter's flawed disinformation policy, and maybe teach you something interesting.
2 Some time ago, I tweeted something sarcastic about vaccines (I used sARcAsM CaSe to be clear about it), and Twitter handed me a twelve hour suspension and demanded that I remove the tweet.
3 It was a low-effort tweet, and twelve hours isn't a long time in the middle of a busy week, so I didn't bother fighting about it. But it wasn't disinformation - the opposite.
4 Skip forward to about three months ago, when Twitter did the same thing - account suspension (this time for 7 days) and a demand that I remove the tweet. 7 days is much longer than 12 hours, and felt like an escalation.
5 The tweet in question was in response to the IRR's absurd claims about CRT in South African schools, which is *literally disinformation*. I listed other common and ridiculous conspiracy theories, followed by "...if you don't behave, the monsters will eat you."
(6 I have a screenshot of the tweet, but I don't know whether Twitter uses OCR to police their policies. I'd be willing to share it via DM, and am open to being convinced that they don't use OCR.)
7 Given my sense that this was an escalation, I went looking for Twitters disinformation policy. To be clear - at no stage in handling any of my Tweets did Twitter refer me to their policy. Here it is: help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-p…
8 Basically. Twitter has a 5 strikes policy, and if their bot detects a trigger phrase you get two strikes. Five strikes and your account is gone. FoRtUnAtElY YoU CaN ApPeAl. Note the sarcasm. My first appeal took six weeks, and your account is locked throughout.
9 After six weeks, I received an email from Twitter that my appeal had been rejected, but without any additional explanation except that "Our support team has determined that a violation did take place, and therefore we will not overturn our decision."
10 Further instructions gave me a choice between explicitly acknowledging guilt and removing the tweet, or appealing again. I appealed again. Six weeks later, my account was still locked and my appeal unresolved.
11 Three months is obviously a long wait for a ridiculous charge to be resolved, but I was interested to see the scenario play out "officially", and life was busy.
12 Having given Twitter sufficient opportunity to redeem themselves, I have no more faith in their processes. I am withdrawing my pointless appeal and sharing my experience here. I have four strikes, and little faith I can keep my tweets boring enough to survive.
13 Although if/when this account is terminated, I'll simply create a new account (something I did not do before, because it seemed like a bad faith workaround while assuming Twitter operates in good faith.)
14 Some additional thoughts - I don't think Twitter is malicious. Regulating natural speech is incredibly difficult, and harm can occur by getting it wrong at either end of the spectrum.
15 I DO think we need to regulate disinformation, and I think that Twitter's policy on paper is serviceable. Their enforcement is not. (And if we consider the arms of government as an analogy, Twitter cannot be judge, jury and executioner.)
16 I believe we need a framework at the international level, much like GDPR/POPI, that addresses disinformation with clear and unambiguous rules, leaving platforms to police, and with independent bodies, akin to ch9, to regulate.
17 "Maybe you shouldn't be sarcastic / ironic?" This is explicitly addressed in their policy: NOT disinformation. Furthermore, we should be apologists for extreme policing by blaming victims of extreme policing.
18 The fact that I must submit to an account suspension until I admit guilt is effectively - even if not intentional - extortion.
19 Importantly, there are plenty of ways to share disinformation without being detected by their bots. As any of you can confirm. Bad enforcement allows disinformation to thrive.
20 "Twitter can do what they want" Irrelevant - evidently they CAN. This issue is whether they SHOULD BE allowed to; whether being allowed to contributes to the greater good.
21 A few people reached out to me off Twitter to confirm my good health, for which I am appreciative, and which reminds me that Twitter, like all tools, can be a force for good as much for evil.

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