Brian and Ed Krassenstein, famous anti-Trump online activists, were banned suddenly last night from Twitter, because, according to Twitter’s press release:
The Twitter Rules to apply to everyone. Operating multiple fake accounts and purchasing account interactions are strictly prohibited. Engaging in these behaviors will result in permanent suspension from the service.
This morning, the Krassenstein brothers provided an editorial that includes the message Twitter sent to their accounts:
Your account has been permanently suspended for violating the Twitter Rules…, specifically: Fake accounts: You may not register or create fake and misleading accounts or use multiple accounts to manipulate Twitter conversations. While you may use Twitter pseudonymously or as a parody, commentary, or fan account, you may not use misleading account information in order to engage in spamming, abusive, or disruptive behavior, including attempts to manipulate the conversations on Twitter. Selling Usernames: You may not buy or sell Twitter usernames.
In their public defense, the Krassenstein brothers reveal that they were operating multiple accounts. First, they had old accounts that were not active or involved unrelated activities. Second, they had accounts to watch for threats against their families and make reports to the FBI. Brian and Ed then make their polite appeal to Twitter to review and reverse the ban:
We have long defended Twitter’s actions of banning and suspending users, and our stance still remains the same. Twitter, as a private company, has every right to ban whoever they choose, including us. We would, however, appreciate that Twitter reviews our suspension and issues a correction in regards to their comments about us buying or selling Twitter accounts or interactions. This is 100% false, and if Twitter believes they have evidence to prove otherwise, we ask and encourage them to release these details to the media.
The Krassenstein brothers could not be more polite. Frankly, I would be furious. But thanks to the total unregulated corporate power of the big social media sites, being extra polite even when you claim you did no wrong is absolutely necessary — you don’t want to hurt the feelings of someone with such total power.
Republicans, Trump supporters and other reactionaries complain constantly about Twitter and Facebook censorship, and rightfully so. However, they cannot harmonize their complaints against censorship with their generalized desire for deregulation, consolidation, and unlimited corporate “free” speech as a tool of censorship. So, in the case of conservatives, it is some sort of personal justice that they would get banned under the very policies they support — until such time as their idols are out of power and a more reasonable view of human free speech — with enforceable rules, due process, and appeals rights — takes hold.
When the Krassenstein brothers say, “Twitter, as a private company, has every right to ban whoever they choose, including us,” they are describing the state of law as it is. I hope they have not caved into the Ronald Reagan and corporate free speech agenda of the Republican Party that they are supposed to oppose.