The new owner of the social network seems to be overseeing a purge of left-wing activists from the platform.
Several prominent antifascist organizers and journalists have had their accounts suspended in the last week after right-wing operatives appealed directly to Musk to ban them.
An antifascist researcher whose open-source investigation of the U.S. Capitolriot led to the identification and arrest of a masked Proud Boy is one of the suspended users. The account of a video journalist who reports on far-right protests has been suspended.
Twitter is silencing people who document extremism, alt-right violence & police abuse in LA.@chadloder and @vps_reports were suspended after alt-right requests -- while Twitter is reinstating people who promote racism & incite anti-trans violence.
This is ugly and dangerous. pic.twitter.com/7cnhItUY8T— Mike Bonin (@mikebonin) November 26, 2022
The Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club, an antifascist group that provides armed security for LGBTQ+ events in North Texas, was one of the accounts that was suspended.
Andy Ngo, a far-right writer whose conspiratorial reporting on left-wing protests and social movements fuels the mass delusion that a few small antifascist groups are part of an imaginary shadow army, criticized all four accounts. Musk invited Ngo to report accounts that should be suspended directly to him.
Most of the journalists and publications that have their accounts deleted have engaged in verifiably good journalism and done so completely above board. It's being driven by paranoid delusions about antiFA.
Last year, The Intercept reported that the researcher had joined a failed attempt to have a court order the researcher to stop posting about one of the Proud Boys.
In a phone interview on Monday, the founder of a tech company said that their account was temporarily suspended last week after Musk replied to a user. After briefly regaining access to the account, loder was suspended again and accused of using another account to evade the ban.
As part of an effort to donate N95 masks to doctors during the first months of the Covid-19 Pandemic, a group of activists set up an account called "masksfordocs", but have not used it. Go drew attention to the account on the social networking site.
I believe that I and other accounts have been mass reported for the last few weeks by a dedicated group of far-right extremists who want to destroy evidence of their past misdeeds and make it harder for us to expose them in the future. I believe that my account was flagged for some reason and no one is looking at it.
The account could have been suspended due to the fact that it was on a list of accounts being passed around by right-wing activists. Telegram channels with tens of thousands of followers, including Proud Boys, had coordinated a flurry of complaints about Loder.
The Trust and Safety team was made aware of the false-reporting campaign against Loder earlier this month, but it was not enough to make a difference.
He joked about the idea that Musk was simply doing Ngo's bidding.
Regardless of the reason for the suspension, it is clear that the platform is no longer a viable one for antifascist and security researchers.
It is only a matter of time before I get mass reported again.
The product you sell for social networks is called moderation. Now that Musk appears to be tweaking moderation to tilt the playing field in favor of far-right extremists, the social network is going to turn into Gab with fake news.
For social networks, “the product you’re selling is content moderation.”
Some of the right's criticism of content moderation decisions made before Musk was fair, according to loder. I agree that the Hunter Biden laptop story should not have been edited by the social networking site. We don't want the Nazis to post our addresses.
The sweeping changes made by Musk, like the increased tolerance for far-right hate speech, mean that Twitter will probably keep functioning as a website and an app for some time.
The site has been used by labor organizers and racial justice protesters in recent years to drive real-world change, as well as by the so-called sedition hunters who have used the platform to crowd source.
The best hate speech was banned through content moderation, which made it possible for the community to gather. That is no longer a part of the product. Mastodon is the new home of the entire information security community. Activists who helped create BlackTwitter are talking about how to rebuild their community.
For most of us, social media was not a good place to be. "Let's not rewrite history while saying goodbye to the hellsite." It was a frightening battleground where we barely survived amidst the worst violent neo-Nazi extremists who constantly published our home addresses, threatened our kids' lives, and sent hordes of racist troll into our mentions.
They said that the same principles that allowed them to survive on social media will be required here. There is community defense, thoughtful pressure on moderation policies and eternal vigilance. We make safe spaces through constant effort, even though there are no safe places. We make sure we are safe. It will take a long time to die and disappear completely.
The journalist and videographer wrote on Mastodon that he would have to repair nearly every article he had ever written after being banned from the social networking site. A lot of articles were written by journalists. From the left to the right side of politics. There are academic papers that cite my work. These links are no longer working.
The misleading, factually incorrect summary was posted days before Singh's account was suspended. Singh, a left-wing journalist, did not call for violence in the message that was shared by Ngo. Last year, after Singh was attacked twice by far-right anti-vaccine protesters and lashed out in self-defense, Ngo posted a misleadingly captioned video and wrongly accused Singh of being the one who attacked.
While reports had been filed against their account for the same message that Ngo had posted, the company concluded that none of those messages violated official policy.
Singh was suspended from the photo sharing site. They wrote on Mastodon that the mass false report campaign by the far-right has not stopped. All of my journalism is being suppressed.
The account of CrimethInc was suspended last Friday. George Orwell used the term "thought crime" in his novel "1984".
In the 14 years that CrimethInc has been on the social networking site, the account has never been suspended or even reprimanded. The change was made last week after an exchange on the social networking site.
.@crimethinc, an Antifa collective, makes riot guides, texts to radicalize people into criminal militancy, & propaganda that is shared via Twitter for people to distribute. They've claimed a number of attacks & give instructions on how to form cells, what riot gear to bring, etc. pic.twitter.com/dlNouwlt5v— Andy Ngô ???? (@MrAndyNgo) November 25, 2022
The CrimethInc account was asked to be suspended by Ngo, who called it an "AntiFA collective" and claimed the group had claimed a number of attacks. The account was suspended within hours of the request to Musk.
After the CrimethInc suspension, Ngo claimed that the group made propaganda and training material to radicalize people towards violence. Twelve affiliated accounts have not yet been suspended, he said. Almost all of the additional accounts had been suspended by the micro-blogging site.
CrimethInc said in a statement that Musk's goal was to silence opposition and pave the way for fascist violence.
On the morning of the suspension, the collective received an email from the company stating that it had received a complaint about your account, but that it was not subject to removal under the rules.
The group said it had not received another email from the social networking site. This suggests that the decision to ban our account was made by Musk himself, without any consideration for the rules or protocol of the social networking site.
They did not reply to the request.
The account of the John Brown Gun Club, an antifascist group in Texas, was suspended by social media after a mass shooting at a nightclub in Colorado Springs.
The John Brown Gun Club helps marginalized communities defend themselves against white supremacist violence. Gunslingers from the Proud Boys and neo-Nazi groups often show up at family-friendly drag events in Texas.
One was a joke about pronouns and the other was a reply to a Customs and Border Protection account. Without being misinterpreted or taken out of context, neither of those posts are considered to be hate speech.
The Elmfork Fork John Brown Gun Club has not yet had its account suspended, but it has been using a different account. The group is on Mastodon.
The Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club said in a statement that it was ironic that their suspension came at the same time as the restoration of hate accounts. We can say that the timing and reasoning is deliberate and targeted, even though we cannot say whether this is an indication of the future of leadership of Musk.
Updated: November 29, 2022, 6:05 pm ET
This article was updated to add a quote from Chad Loder in which the antifascist researcher criticized Twitter for having blocked links to a report on Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 presidential election.