I agree with Mike Caulfield statement on Twitter’s take-down and appeals process, that it is arbitrary, opaque, and the subject has no inkling as to the process.
I would not be writing about this, except that this happened to me.
About a week ago, I got locked out of Twitter for a post I made in June.
Someone posted a sign a McDonald’s which appears to state that they are out of happy meals, though they use the term “Boy Toys.”
The poster suggested that he was sad, because he wanted his “twinks”, a slang term for young, and young appearing, gay men.
My response was that he was being “Homonormative, (a play on the term “Heteronormative”) and that “Wymyn” (An 80s radical feminist spelling for “Woman”) might want their “Boy Toys” as well.
It was pretty anodyne, though every 2 weeks of so, it showed up in someone’s feed, and they would ask, “What the heck is Wymyn?”
When I got the ban, I appealed the decision, which was likely automated, and was probably driven by someone flagging it. (No accounting for humor, I guess)
That I got a Twitter Timeout™ was actually kind of a thrill, I have been in a bit of a competition with my son Charlie after Twitter flagged him for suggesting that Meghan McCain do something anatomically dubious with a cactus.
I submitted an appeal, and then nothing happened.
After 4 days of not being able to access twitter, I deleted the tweet.
But just before I deleted the tweet, I came across Mr. Caulfield’s essay, and I agree with his assessment of the appeals process:
So that would be my recommendation to Twitter. Either cancel the appeals process, apply it narrowly to suspensions, or speed it up. At the very least, inform people engaging in it what the average time for resolution is. And while my suspension probably won’t derail national or international efforts against COVID-19, I can’t help but think of all the medical researchers and public policy people out there using Twitter to communicate and collaborate. So as much as Twitter seems to think any deference to academic culture is a thumb on the scale, I really hope they can have someone write up a list of experts more important than me and take a bit more care before they ban them. I assume what I was hit with was based on a programmatic scan, not trolls gaming reporting. But the anti-vaccine trolls are out there and I know they are reporting the heck out of anyone that gets in their way. If Twitter doesn’t make a nominal effort to protect those researchers, there will be much more high-profile (and damaging) bannings to come.
(Incidentally the fact that the report does not actually tell me if I have been banned by a programmatic scan –having 5g and vaccines in the same tweet — or via a report is very bad in terms of both transparency and utility. I actually need to know whether it is a troll report or algorithm. If it’s an algorithm, it’s a lightning strike, and I go on the way I have. If the trolls have found me, that’s a different problem, and one I need to be alerted to.)
When we talk about the size of the online giants, what is frequently ignored is the generally poor quality of user* services.
Terms and services are poorly written, arbitrarily enforced, and completely lacking in any measurable human involvement.
It would not be at all unreasonable to require that the large online service sites to provide clearer processes, along with the ability to contact an actual human being.
The quality of the services would improve, at least from the end user perspective, and it would make the enormous scale that entities like Facebook, Twitter, and Google have achieved more expensive, which might aid smaller challengers and mitigate against further growth.
*They not customers, the advertisers are the customers, the users are the product.