Twitter suspended and then reinstated a conservative contributor for the Washington Examiner, Tyler Grant, after he tweeted “learn to code” in the context of a discussion about automation and the oft-debated Universal Basic Income (UBI).
Grant’s account was reinstated within 24 hours. The suspension came just days after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey publicly admitted that his platform was “probably way too aggressive” in banning conservatives for using the phrase “learn to code,” which was briefly used mainly by conservative and populist users to mock out-of-work left-wing journalists online.
Defenders of the expression note that the phrase’s popularity is likely owed to a perceived indifference by metropolitan, left-wing journalists at the crisis of American blue-collar jobs. Headlines suggesting that out-of-work blue collar workers might learn to code are not uncommon.
Hey laid off journalists who are upset that people are telling you to "learn how to code":
Go mine some coal and then go fuck yourselves. pic.twitter.com/lYWDIIcCKm
— Alex VanNess (@thealexvanness) January 27, 2019
The Washington Examiner contributor, however, notes that he was not using the phrase to mock any particular individual. Instead, he was using it in the context of a debate about the universal basic income, automation, and the technological displacement of jobs. Indeed, Grant says he was actually criticizing people who suggested journalists should learn to code.
I’m out of Twitter jail— last night, my account was suspended for simply using the phrase “learn to c***”. I wasn’t even using it in a hostile context. In fact, I was hoping to stir a conversation about universal basic income.
Here are the screenshots— you be the judge: pic.twitter.com/EJde5Yj335
— Tyler Grant (@The_Tyler_Grant) March 9, 2019
In a comment to Breitbart News, Grant said “I wanted to comment on the fact that individuals who claimed journalists who lost their jobs should learn to code are going to look very foolish when in 5 years the same entry level jobs for coders they were mocking journalists to take are going to be replaced by automation.”
“The discussion I had hoped [would] lead to a broader discussion of universal basic income — however, Twitter policing a phrase without context stifles meaningful debate and [it] needs to take a reflective look at what it is they are hoping to achieve by banning particular phrases or words.”
Breitbart News has reached out to Twitter for comment.