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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

And then they came for Instapundit…

First they came for Robert Stacey McCain but I had no idea who he was…
Then they came for Milo but I had no idea who he was either and anyway, he had silly hair…
Then they came for Instapundit…

A little earlier today Instapundit’s Twitter account got blocked. Due to Twitter’s Orwellian… no, Kafkaesque censorship policy it was not initially clear which tweet or tweets had earned Twitter’s ire. There was certainly no question of Glen Reynolds (Instapundit’s webmaster) being allowed to defend himself. At least not to Twitter – to the rest of the world Reynolds is most robust.

This is serious stuff. Instapundit was one of the original blogs. Although I was not present at it’s conception, my belief is that if it hadn’t been for Instapundit there wouldn’t have been a Samizdata. Certainly, Instapundit blazed a trail for hundreds, if not thousands of others and crucially Reynolds is not a nutter. If they can ban him they can ban us all.

Worse still, it is not as if Twitter is alone. It is remarkable how quickly internet stalwarts like Google, Facebook and Twitter have gone from being dynamic, “don’t be evil”, believers in freedom to being fully paid up members of the bansturbationary elite.

The question is what do we do now? Rob attempted to answer this very question earlier this week and I am happy to give gab.ai a go. The key question is if anyone else is prepared to. These things need critical mass and right-wingers are not known for engaging in collective action.

Like many I had high hopes for the internet. I thought it would lead to a renaissance of freedom. Instead it is quickly coming to resemble the very MSM I hoped it would check. And what have we got to show for our 15 years or so of being able to say what we think?

49 comments to And then they came for Instapundit…

  • Shlomo Maistre

    And what have we got to show for our 15 years or so of being able to say what we think?

    1. The primary thing preventing people from saying what they really think is not the legal right to do so or even the capacity to do so; it is the social consequences of doing so. Ostracism, cultural pressure, reputation loss, etc. This is ever more evident in a democracy where public opinion is of special importance due to the wide distribution of perceived power in society.
    2. Glenn Reynolds can say what he wants. It’s Twitter’s prerogative to ban him for any reason or no reason at all.
    3. Anyone can say whatever he wants, but he must face the consequences – as in all things. This is how it has always been (both before and after the advent of the internet) and it is how it always will be.
    4. As far as the future of the internet, please note that nature abhors a power vacuum.

  • Shlomo, I must say I cannot recall a comment by you like this, which is to say, one which make almost no interesting (even if benighted) points whatsoever.

  • Censorship of Instapundit is very evil. What indeed do we do now?

    The motive of those who did this is obvious – to swing the election to Hillary.

    Will anyone who otherwise wouldn’t now hold their nose and vote for Trump?

    It is one way to fight back.

  • And what have we got to show for our 15 years or so of being able to say what we think?

    Really a lot. I mean REALLY a lot. Due to the influence of opinions expressed on the internet, majority of people (at least in the Anglosphere) tend not to believe what the MSM now says or writes (at least on a great many topics). How do you think Brexit happened despite the overwhelming majority of the Great and Good assuring us that Godzilla would arise from the Thames are destroy Britain if we voted LEAVE?

  • Quit twitter two months ago, moved to gab.ai a couple of weeks ago.

  • pete

    Twitter is a private website. It can ban who it likes.

    I’d have thought libertarians would be happy about this freedom.

    There is plenty of room on the internet for all sorts of opinions but nobody has a right to be heard on a private site.

  • Alsadius

    They seem to have rolled it back, FWIW. He should get at least another month or two out of it.

  • Dear God pete, get a grip! Stop projecting and actually read what people write. No one is saying “Twitter must be prohibited by law from banning instapundit!”

    What people are saying is “fuck you Twitter! Does this means non-lefties will still be able to use it?”

    Yes, Twitter can ban who they like, just like I can (and do) ban people from Samizdata when I feel like it. Their right to do that is not the issue. What it means for people with opinions Twitter might not like, THAT is the issue. See Phelps for an actual relevant comment. He has moved to gab.ai. I will too but I am stuck in the queue waiting to get an account: perfect free market solution to the people running twitter being cunts.

  • William O. B'Livion

    Yeah, as of right now the waiting list at Gab.ai is a BigInt (as I posted in the gab.ai thread).

    If they have money and need help I know a couple of Dev/Ops types who would be willing to get paid.

    And a REALLY good technical project manager who is in need of a job .

  • pete

    Perry, it was the Kafkaesque censorship policy bit that got me.

    It isn’t really censorship at all to decide what goes on your own website.

    To me censorship is someone telling me I can’t publish what I like on my own website or in my own newspaper.

    Twitter’s policy is hardly Kafkaesque. It doesn’t want off-message comments on its site but you can be as abusive and insulting as you like if you are on-message from a PC point of view. From its actions it is fairly clear what Twitter’s rules are and they are easy to understand. Kafkaesque situations are not easy to understand. They are bafflingly illogical and very difficult to understand.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Part of the problem is that Google, Facebook, and Twitter are all based in the Bay Area. When people have lunch together, even a few times/year, that tends to breed conformity.

    I myself see no need for Twitter and little need for Facebook. I still suffer from the externalities of other people being swayed by them in their voting, of course. That is one reason why i am beginning to see Trump in a favorable light: he is the one person who can discredit those whom Joel Kotkin calls the tech oligarchs. (See the good professor himself on this.)

    But let’s wait for the debates: if Hillary cannot utter meaningful sentences, or has to be carried off the stage, then there is nothing the oligarchs can do, anyway. (I wanted to say this a couple of weeks ago, but i was too busy watching the US Open.)

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Shlomo, I must say I cannot recall a comment by you like this, which is to say, one which make almost no interesting (even if benighted) points whatsoever.

    <3 u 2

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Benighted (primitive, unenlightened, “overtaken by darkness”, morally bankrupt) comments has long been my forte.

  • DOuglas2

    The reports I’ve seen on HuffPo, BoingBoing, and other sites all remove his tweet from its context, a string of re-tweets including some relaying the fear and horror of a female driver caught in the riot on the freeway, whose vehicle was being attacked as she was on the phone to the tweeting news reporter.

    The comments from his dean and chancellor also condemn him for advocating violence:
    “we do not support violence or language that encourages violence. Professor Reynolds has built a significant platform to discuss his viewpoints, but his remarks on Twitter are an irresponsible use of his platform.”

    I’ve been thinking much over the past few days of the ChicagoBoyz/SgtMom post on Calumny. (http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/53912.html)

    There is no denying that his tweet said “run them down”, but to report that he was saying it about “protestors”, and to willfully remove the context that he was advocating self-protection in the face of mob violence – even if it caused injury to those attacking you – certainly falls under the definition of malicious misrepresentation of his words.

    To some extent, he bears responsibility for writing in such a way that it could be misrepresented by removing the context. As a university professor and lawyer he should be more aware than most people of the traps that speaking off-the-cuff can get you into.

    I am still big into blogs and longer forms. I know so many blogs have gone away, but I greatly appreciate the effort put in by the authors of those that remain. And this post inspires me to sign up for Gab.al, even though I never engaged with twitter, just to add to the (hopefully) critical mass for a forum where speech can be free.

  • QET

    It isn’t really censorship at all to decide what goes on your own website.

    It is, but it is lawful. What it also is, is discrimination. Which may or may not be lawful. Twitter is a private business. If Twitter were a bakery whose owners held strong Christian beliefs and refused to bake wedding cakes for gay couples, it would be assaulted by the various civil rights commissions and states attorneys general and the federal justice department for unlawful discrimination. Private business here has long been constricted by ideologically-motivated laws. Twitter has allowed all manner of tweets from ideologically approved persons expressing sentiments of the same nature as Reynolds’, without banning them. But it tends to ban only right-leaning persons. But where a BLM tweeter could sue Twitter for banning BLM tweets exhorting violence, a Reynolds can’t, because Reynolds, as a white straight cis male is not a “protected category” under the jurisprudence of US anti-discrimination laws. Only protected categories are protected from discrimination. It’s a perfect Catch-22.

    So “the Internet” has mutated according to the legal environment here just as you would expect. It has evolved into an organism whose genetic code reflects the Left-liberal legal-ideological regime more than the individual liberty-empowering ideology that founded it. You can dispute like medieval Schoolmen whether Twitter does or does not “censor,” but that is really beside the point.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Google/Facebook/Twitter are private and can do what they want.

    However, they have (due to the way the technology works) near total dominance of the spaces they operate in.

    I know of at least one major conservative Web site which uses Facebook exclusively for comment log-in.

    Thousands, perhaps millions of businesses rely on Facebook rather than build their own websites – and even those that do roll their own often need to have a Facebook presence.

    Google can tweak its searches to bury or promote memes at will.

    Twitter is now a large share of all communications.

    If they stack the deck, it becomes very hard to win.

    This is an element of what might be called “soft” dictatorship. There are regimes which are de facto dictatorships without being totalitarian. They don’t hunt down and forcibly silence every dissenting voice; they just muffle dissent by limiting its circulation (see the “media hegemony” of the chavista regime in Venezuela).
    They don’t make political opposition illegal, or manufacture election results from scratch; they cripple opposition finances, harass opposition candidates and organizers, use state resources for their own political operations, “assist” large numbers of elderly or illiterate voters… And then claim “democratic legitimacy” because they won the election.

    Google/Facebook/Twitter would be very helpful in this.

  • gongcult

    Twitter may be within its legal rights to “censor” what it describes as does not conform to its “policies and agreements upon usage…” This shows Twitter what it is – a private company unconcerned with and inimical to the free flow of ideas and opinions !

  • James Waterton

    Thanks, Twitter, for nailing your colours to the mast so openly. Of course, I always considered you a vacuous, hopelessly inadequate communication tool which, by design, renders learning anything of any worth through discussion with one’s fellow human beings virtually impossible. You are the internet’s primary hub of political and celebrity snark, and its largest repository of superficial political and celebrity brainfarts. That’s pretty much all there is to you. You could vanish off the face of the earth tomorrow and no one would be any the poorer for it – bar your hapless owners. But then again, they have already grossly overvalued your worth from a purely financial perspective, judging by your frequent inability to turn a profit, let alone a prospect of ever delivering a respectable return on the money they invested in you.

    So do feel free to go the way of Myspace (minus the niche markets). You won’t be missed.

  • TimR

    His advice (run them down) was also a little impractical. If you get two or three protesters under the car you will come to a halt, with undesired consequences.

  • Really a lot. I mean REALLY a lot.

    Indeed. I realised I was a libertarian only when I started reading libertarian blogs like Samizdata. When I first encountered blogs I was a social conservative, but quickly got persuaded by the libertarian/classical liberal arguments that I’d hitherto never heard before.

  • Well, when I say I’m a libertarian I still believe the death penalty should be applied to those who get in my way by dawdling along at airports.

  • Perry, it was the Kafkaesque censorship policy bit that got me. It isn’t really censorship at all to decide what goes on your own website. To me censorship is someone telling me I can’t publish what I like on my own website or in my own newspaper.

    I agree to a point. I also dislike using the term “censorship” when referring to a private company, but it is not quite an apple to apples comparison. What happens on samizdata is “editorial control” rather than “censorship”. However, Twitter and Facebook et al. are not directly analogous to Samizdata. For that to be true, my hosting server provider would have to start deleting Samizdata posts that they disapproved of from the WordPress backend. Is even that “censorship” as the hosting provider is also a company? It gets a little murkier at that point.

    However I think the term Kafkaesque when applied to Twitter is perfect: their “acceptable use” policies are completely recondite & arcane in both practice & execution, and calling for violence may or may not get you suspended depending on who you are.

  • I’m with Perry. Free speech defends a lot of things: the lie direct is often not actionable. The suppressio veri and the suggestio false even less so. But they should nevertheless be called out whenever they occur. Twitter pretends to be one thing and has recently morphed into another. That other is about censorship – with a very specific purpose – masquerading (very unconvincingly) as even-handed avoidance of over-crude speech.

    Glenn is justly respected – and very widely known.. He is indeed one of the firsts in the blogosphere. The word “instalanche” was coined for him. That they would go after him is very revealing of how far Twitter’s transformation has gone, and of how insolently it is being done. (Perhaps also of how ineptly – one may hope.)

    The very right thing to do is to make this known.

    Since behaviour that is rewarded becomes more common, and behaviour that is punished less so, the next thing is the OP’s question: what do we do now? Another desirable outcome would be diminishing twitter’s market share, reputation or whatever. It is the essence of the left to imagine desirable outcomes and assume their good intentions will achieve them, but we have to come up with something more concrete. (I will look at Gab.ai but all ideas welcome.)

    Persuading people that their tactics are not helping their immediate goal would also be better than the reverse – hence my first comment. (Making it widely known may help with that.)

  • Cristina

    Is it all this surprise and outrage for real?
    Are we discovering the lefty drift of everything popular and democratic (the internet, anyone?) just now?
    Have ever men failed to choose the easy way out when confronted with reality, in this case, leftism over any other social order?

  • Cal

    It’s also about calling out liars. Twitter (and Facebook) pretend they’re non-partisan platforms, but in fact they target the right, and give the left a free pass.

    I might go to Gab if it gets going. I’m only on Twitter really to provide a — however small — counter-balance to the leftists.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    I was in New York waiting to get onto my flight a day ago, and the CNN feed was on and everyone, of all races and types, was watching the tumult and violence in Charlotte. One of the journalists talking to camera was assaulted, live, and the shock in the studio was obvious.

    As Glenn says, when interstate transport and communications is disrupted, we have gone from legitimate expression of First Amendment free speech rights to something else. The BLM crowd aren’t all insurrectionists looking for trouble, but lets at least address the fact that a lot are up for causing trouble. There has been looting, as happened a while back in another case.

    Reynolds has been complaining about Twitter for some time and he is not a bigot. Ultimately of course Twitter, which is a free market organisation, can do what it likes, just as those who dislike the “liberal” bias of its founders can take their custom elsewhere. I don’t bother with Twitter at all, apart from my day-job where I post very specific commercial material that isn’t ever going to be political anyway.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Oh, and I agree 100% with Shlomo at the top of this thread. That has to be a first!!

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Tim Newman
    September 23, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Well, when I say I’m a libertarian I still believe the death penalty should be applied to those who get in my way by dawdling along at airports.

    Indeed. There is an entire class of people, who I call “slow movers” who do perfectly legal things, like writing out a check in the express checkout lane, or driving at exactly the speed limit, or ‘dawdling along at airports’, that inflict a maximum of inconvenience on others.

    The libertarian solution to the problem is for society to take a more relaxed view of justifiable homicide; a formal death penalty administered by the state is not needed. ;^)

  • Oh, and I agree 100% with Shlomo at the top of this thread. That has to be a first!!

    Trouble is not a line of it is actually germane to Patrick’s article. Not that Shlomo is a libertarian, but it is a huge error many libertarians fall into when someone is critical of a company to say “they are a company and can do what they want”. To which my replay is “so bloody what if they are a private company? Was anyone suggesting the state should be involved in this matter?”… If I do not like what a private company does, I am a private person and thus when I think that private company is run by board stacked with private bourgeois lefty cunts presiding over a bunch of freely hired like minded cunts, I am inclined to say so and call them… cunts (or perhaps I am just channelling my inner RAB) 😉

    No one here has said Twitter cannot kick who they want, so remarking on the fact they are a company and can do what they want suggests the comment was just a “trigger word response” to the word “censorship” (which is why I personally avoid the term unless I am talking about state action). And no one is saying opprobrium is inappropriate (indeed every time I say rude things about Twitter or Facebook or Wired or ArseTechnica etc,. that is opprobrium-in-action).

    But it seems to me that Patrick’s article is about what the implications are of Twitter going increasingly SJW for not just People Like Us but for anyone who dissents from the post-modern left world view. Indeed much the same remarks were made from a more more technical single-point-of-failure perspective about market-dominant blogspot in the early days of blogging… because everyone and their brother (including Samizdata) hoisted their blogs on blogspot. Similar share-of-market concerns from a “chilling effect” rather than technical point of view can be made about twitter and facebook, but the issue is actually quite similar. And so is the solution: competition. SJW cuntery may actually be the driver that make competition economically viable by enhancing people’s willingness to seek new alternatives.

    And do you remember what created the blogosphere? It was the MSM’s lock-step bourgeois leftie reportage in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Discontent drives people to look for alternatives.

  • Mal Reynolds

    I was only on Twitter for Milo. Now I only go there to check on a few good parody accounts (@OnMessageForHer and @Salondotcom) but that’s essentially distilled twitter into a site I go to for humour (although that’s basically why I was there for Milo).

    Have joined the waiting list for gab.ai but I wasn’t a prolific user of twitter anyway so not sure how much value I will derive from gab.ai. Given that it will be (initially) full to the brim with libertarians, younger conservatives, the alt-right etc. it could be great fun though.

  • James Waterton

    I’m only on Twitter really to provide a — however small — counter-balance to the leftists.

    Kee-rist, let them have it. The best that can be said about Twitter is that it doesn’t always bring out the worst in people. The worst is that it usually does.

    Stick a fork in Twitter; it’s done.

  • rosenquist

    Yes, Twitter can ban who they like, just like I can (and do) ban people from Samizdata when I feel like it. Their right to do that is not the issue.

    The thread title ‘And then they came for…’ and the use of terms ‘kafkaesque’ and ‘Orwellian’ would strongly suggest that the OP sees little or no difference between a private website banning somebody and state enforced censorship.

  • James Waterton

    because everyone and their brother (including Samizdata) hoisted their blogs on blogspot.

    Hoist by our own blogtard, you say? Bloody hell, I had a Blogspot blog for about five seconds maybe half a lifetime ago. When people with mortgages blogged under their real names. An era that pre-dated the unholy, wholly lazy alliance of HR and Google that has formed the new ‘due diligence’. That old blog’s stil still sitting there, I guess. I should probably take it offline. What was the damned password?

  • …would strongly suggest that the OP sees little or no difference between a private website banning somebody and state enforced censorship.

    Patrick can speak for himself but I can say with some certainty that you would be quite wrong about that. Many people can “come for you” and not be the state, and anyone who has tried to argue a bill with a utility or bank knows that not only the state can be Kafkaesque.

  • Again, I’m with Perry, September 23, 2016 at 3:29 pm. “First they came for …” is widely used, sometimes by Glenn Reynolds amongst many others. ‘They’ are not necessarily the state in such usage, and ‘come for’ does not necessarily mean jail. ‘They’ may be an organisation that has given an impression of openness in the past and is not yet sufficiently known to be no longer so. ‘They’ may be an aggressive public opinion exercising a chilling expression on free speech. Even if ‘they’ are the state, the expression – like much else that was originally about the Nazis – is (thankfully) going to be an exaggeration, if taken literally, in almost any modern usage.

    Cristina, September 23, 2016 at 12:01 pm: “Is it all this surprise and outrage for real?”

    The anger is quite real. As far as surprise – well, Glenn himself has been reporting the early signs of this trend for months, so I doubt he was that surprised, nor am I that surprised – Glenn is not the only one who has been noticing. This latest event is a significant escalation of a trend visible for the better part of a year.

    On a much smaller scale, this has been around for while: you may recall the group who opened two Facebook pages, one Palestinian, one Israeli, and gradually escalated the remarks in exact unison. The Israeli one was taken down quickly. The Palestinian one would be up now, had the group not publicised their findings.

    When you buy the Guardian or the New York Times, the reader knows what they are getting – or it’s mostly the reader’s fault if they don’t. Because, nominally, Twitter’s users write the content, and because this trend, on this scale, is very new, Twitter and Facebook users may be less aware – indeed, exploiting that lack of awareness is in the run up to the election is presumably the point.

  • As one who at one time was renowned for publishing the occasional (ahem daily) intemperate commentary on his own website and suffered the consequences thereof (loss of job, for one), I can sympathize with Glenn’s plight.

    I hardly think that UTenn is going to fire one of its most able and popular professors, one who brings in much status (not to say paying students) into its Law School each year, and who keeps what is essentially a (relatively) small branch of the state college in the public eye. (This what the SJW force is trying to do, by the way: have him fired.)

    As for Twitter, I can’t comment, as I’ve never had a Twitter account, nor do I ever go there (unless — ha! — Insty links to it). As they are indeed a private entity, they may control content to whatever degree they choose, and of all they want to do is carry SJW content, Kardashian antics and similar filth, then good luck to them. As for Twitter being too big to ignore, I would remind everyone that a similar status once applied to newspapers like the New York Times, and look where they are now.

    Finally, as to Glenn’s misbegotten tweet which caused all this uproar: if surrounded by a group of thugs trying to assault me, I most certainly would not attempt to run them down. Instead, I would put one of my guns to good use first, before driving off.

    How’s that for intemperate?

  • Johnnydub

    I think Glenn Reynolds was simply saying succinctly – “better to be judged by 12 , than carried by 6”

  • Cristina

    Niall Kilmartin, September 23, 2016 at 4:08 pm “The anger is quite real”

    I don’t understand it. If it’s not a surprise, and I agree it’s not, I’d guess Glenn and everybody else knew this was coming. Is the anger directed to the expected outcome? This doesn’t add up in my opinion. It seems like SJW of the opposite sign.

  • will

    So much for “Information wants to be free.” People were actually serious when they said it.

  • Well, when I say I’m a libertarian I still believe the death penalty should be applied to those who get in my way by dawdling along at airports.

    So you support executing the TSA? 🙂

  • Laird

    Ted, that gets my vote! 🙂

  • Paul Marks

    “Twitter is a private company”.

    Yes it is – but it is also a private company that is filled with education system brainwashed Borg drones.

    They have blocked Glenn Reynolds – Glenn Reynolds.

    If Glenn Reynolds is unacceptable to the “educated” (read – conditioned, brainwashed) then they will tolerate no dissent at all – no matter how polite and well informed that dissent is.

    The left (not the “extreme” left – the mainstream left) is TOTALITARIAN.

    This is Barack Obama – and Hillary Clinton, and the rest of them.

    What is practiced in the schools and the universities and, now, in the wider world – is totalitarianism.

    The P.C. elite must be stopped – they must be defeated.

  • The bizarre logic of Cristina’s post at September 23, 2016 at 8:04 pm would appear to be that only unexpected injustices deserve anger. 🙂 If I am killed by an islamic terrorist, I should not be angry – I know that’s what they do after all. If I am killed by a natz terrorist, by contrast, I’m allowed to be angry, since it would be such a surprise – (thankfully) their level of violence rarely goes further than invading someone’s garden to trash their poster.

    Maybe we could try that argument out on SWJs. “You say racist and sexism are rampant so why are you angry at this (allegedly) racist/sexist remark – surely you should expect it.”

    Certainly Glenn could use the argument: “Cool it, twitter guys: you should have expected me to say that”. 🙂

  • Cristina

    LOL, Niall
    No, the expected injustice deserve anger as well.
    This particular “rage” seems to me as spontaneous as the riots of BLM. It has the sound of a temper tantrum, a taste of SJWs redolent of a progressive activism that makes my skin crawl.
    NB: If you are killed by an Islamic terrorist, you cannot be angry. If, on the other hand, some such try to kill you (God forbid!), kill him with my blessings. 🙂

  • Paul Marks

    Why should it be “normal” or “expected” for a private company to block someone who has a lot of “followers” and who, therefore, attracts lots of advertising revenue.

    This is IDEOLOGY – trumping commercial sense (trumping profits).

    It is like Mr Miller (of the New York publishing industry) saying (with a sneer) that Hayek’s “Road To Serfdom” would “sell very well” but that he and his friends in other publishing houses were proud they blocked its publication. If it had not been for W.T. Crouch of the Chicago University Press, we would not know of this.

    And then there is “The Spike” – the Hollywood practice (from the 1930s onwards) of not producing conservative scripts – not because such films would not make money, but because the Hollywood elite did not agree with their politics.

    How many tears have been shed over the House “UnAmerican Activities Committee” attacking the “creative freedom” of Hollywood? What about some tears over the “The Spike” – about Red Hollywood crushing any script where “big business” was presented in a positive light? After all this is still going on in films and television shows to this day.

    “Private businesses Paul”.

    Yes – but a unionised industry (thanks to government regulations) and one where the structure of the industry is also dictated by government.

    Take television – a “little” FCC rule change in the early 1960s (ironically presented as “defending creative freedom”) gave to total control of entertainment shows to a tiny group of people at ABC, CBS and NBC – forbidding outside companies having editorial control over shows they paid for.

    Thus the stranglehold of the left over entertainment television was born.

    When is the “non left” going to understand that this war? Total war.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    “Why should it be “normal” or “expected” for a private company to block someone who has a lot of “followers” and who, therefore, attracts lots of advertising revenue.”

    Because it is a key method of becoming integral to the establishment and as a result deriving the benefits of doing so. Power corrupts – normally. Only certain idealists (such as libertarians and Marxists) do not expect power to corrupt.

    “This is IDEOLOGY – trumping commercial sense (trumping profits).”


    Twitter derives tremendous benefits by making decisions that further solidify its status as a crucial part of the media establishment. And these benefits indirectly will lead to financial benefits for the firm and its owners over the long-term by, for instance, augmenting the barriers to entry potential rivals have to face if they wish to compete. The free mentions Twitter gets in the NYT and on CNN alone are worth many many millions of dollars per month.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    I should hasten to add, since though it’s obvious to me it may not be to some readers, that preserving (or even enhancing) its image/reputation as a respectable, mainstream media outlet is essential to maintaining the extent of free advertisements Twitter receives when cited by major news outlets. Banning unfashionable people or cleansing the service of unfashionable views is a way to differentiate Twitter from competitors while also enhancing its reputation among the people who matter – the establishment. So it’s not ideology per se that compels a quality business leader to aggressively cleanse Twitter of unfashionable views; it’s good business sense that does so.