A former Twitter employee blamed the company’s head of trust and safety, Del Harvey, after the platform locked out thousands of conservative users overnight, in what has been dubbed the “Twitter lock out.”
Although some accounts were unsuspended today, it is unclear how many remain banned, with some conservatives reporting that all or most of their followers have returned.
Mashable reports that conservative users were inaccurately flagged as bots and locked out of their accounts. Locked-out users were asked to provide a phone number to regain access.
Conservatives, libertarians, and Trump-supporters on Twitter reported losing hundreds, and occasionally thousands of followers overnight.
My own follower count followed the same pattern — hundreds of accounts disappeared overnight, only to return next morning. One of my followers told me that he had been locked out of Twitter despite having already verified his phone number.
A former Twitter employee said Trump supporters had been defined as bots, and that it wasn’t an accident.
“It wasn’t a mistake,” said the former employee. “They defined Trump supporters as bots. The only reason they are backpedaling is [because] they got caught.”
The source went on to blame Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Del Harvey, for the purge.
“I’m sure that Vanity Fair article got under her skin,” said the source, referring to a recent article that criticized Twitter for failing to curbs bots and abuse on the platform. “She’s a hardcore SJW [Social Justice Warrior] and has a vindictive streak.”
Twitter flagging Trump supporters and conservatives as bots corroborates footage obtained by undercover journalists at Project Veritas last month, which shows a Twitter employee equating Trump-supporting accounts with bots.
“Just go to a random [Trump] tweet and just look at the followers. They’ll all be like, guns, God, ‘Merica, and with the American flag and the cross,” declared the employee, DM engineer Pranay Singh, who was secretly recorded by Project Veritas reporters. “Like, who says that? Who talks like that? It’s for sure a bot.”
— Project Veritas (@Project_Veritas) January 11, 2018
Aside from Singh’s comments, Twitter has never revealed to the public what methodology it uses to determine if accounts are “Russian-linked” or “bots.” In their public statements, Twitter talks about clamping down on accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, an organization that promotes Russian interests online via bots and other methods.
But the examples cited by Twitter in their statements are all pro-Trump or right-wing, despite the fact that Robert Mueller’s investigation has found that Russian bots spread both pro-Trump and pro-Clinton material on social media. The Russians even organized pro-Hillary rallies, one of which was attended by the prominent left-wing activist Michael Moore.
The former Twitter employee questions the opaque methodology used by his former company in identifying “bots,” and their seemingly exclusive focus on pro-Trump material.
“What is the definition of “fake, coordinated, and automated”? Did Twitter start its analysis by first identifying conservative messaging and then looking for patterns in the accounts posting them? Could “coordinated activity” simply be an SJW term for “viral conservative tweets”? “Coordination” implies intent — how can data analysis determine intent? Only the individuals behind the tweets could say whether they coordinated.”
“All the data will show is the retweeting pattern through a social graph, and trending hashtags. What is the definition of “Russian linked”? Could it be that they defined “Russian linked” as any account which retweeted a popular meme, which also had an originating IP address in Russia or followed anything Russian related? Did they ever consider that there are many Russian-Americans, that following and re-tweeting don’t equal endorsement or agreement (something Twitter itself has argued in court), and that ideas should stand on their own merit regardless of who articulated them?”
“Why isn’t there any sample material that is Anti-Trump or Pro Hillary when Mueller’s indictment clearly states that the Russians sponsored anti-trump rallies?”