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What is the Real Agenda Behind the Great “Twitter Purge”?

Kit

On July 12th, Twitter launched their announced “purge”. Stripping roughly six percent of all the followers on the platform. Barack Obama lost millions, so did Katy Perry.

The stated aim of the exercise was to increase “accuracy” of follower counts, thereby making them more “meaningful”. This was announced in Twitter’s official explanation on July 11th, the day before the “purge”:

Twitter’s official tweets, explaining the alleged reason for the purge.

Twitter has claimed the power to simply force people to stop following certain accounts – they claim to only target “locked” accounts (this isn’t actually true, as we’ll see later), but even if it were…the grounds for “locking” an account are purely subjective.

“Unusual activity” is the cited as the reason accounts are locked, and “unusual activity” can mean whatever they want it to mean.

Whether or not YOU are considered a real person is now entirely up to people who have never met you, judging whether or not your behaviour is “unusual”.

We know, from previous experience, how well this works, considering provably real people such as Ian56 and PartisanGirl were listed as “bots” simply because of the opinions they held. This wasn’t an accident, of course, but even if it were it completely undermines the idea Twitter has any idea who is real and who is not, and totally shuts down the argument they should be allowed to judge whose behaviour is “usual” or otherwise.

Essentially, twitter have granted themselves the power to forcibly prevent people seeing certain news, facts or opinions on their platform. This is the antithesis of free speech.

Twitter claimed these measures were put in place to shut down “bots”, reduce “paid followers” and take out “fake accounts”, but does this explanation hold water? Not really.

We at OffGuardian lost 1580 twitter followers during the great purge – over 15% of our total, and certainly more than the “four or fewer” or “roughly 6%” suggested by Twitter’s pre-emptive explanation.

They weren’t paid followers, they weren’t fake accounts and obviously 1/6th of our followers aren’t bots. But that’s not the important point – the important point is that they are all still there and all still following other people.

As you can see from this redacted screen grab of our twitter stats…

…these victims of the “purge” are all still active, and they all still following other people. Why? Who decided which of their follows should be stripped away, and what were grounds for that decision-making process?

This also proves Twitters claim of only purging “locked” accounts is a lie: As you can see, OffGuardian follows some of our purged followers, and can confirm they are active, real people.

So what then was the point? Questions emerge:

  • If the purged followers were all either dead accounts, fake people or paid followers why not simply delete the accounts?
  • Why did Twitter claim to only be targeting “locked accounts” when a simple stats check proves this to be a lie?
  • Why stop these accounts from following some accounts, but let them continue to follow others?
  • What criteria were used to make this decision?

Twitter has a history of dishonestly employing tools to limit free speech on their platform, from shadowbanning, to putting certain accounts behind warnings or “temporarily restricting” accounts for being “abusive”. All of these measures were introduced within the last year, and all have seemed to disproportionately affect anti-establishment figures, alternate news sites or independent journalists.

Until proven otherwise, it seems the Twitter Purge is nothing but an excuse to shut down communication on the internet and limit free speech. Another nail in Twitter’s coffin.

If you are an independent journalist, or work for an alternative news or media organisation, and have evidence you were disproportionately affected by Twitter’s “purge”, please contact us via our submissions page.

28 Comments

  1. Have you considered Gab? It’s been banned by Google playstore already, which is pretty much a sign (to me at least) that it might be worth exploring, if only for the diversity of opinion its users might have.

  2. I saw Facebook mentioned they are going to be more proactive in deleting “Fake Accounts”. Lets hope they do not delete real accounts…

  3. Andy says

    What is really needed is an alternative to the big three of facebook, twitter and you tube. A global ‘intranet’ that is non commercial and that no single or group of state actors can adjust the rules. Internationally agreed and cast iron reasons for muting, banning etc. eg threads not being able to be removed by admins. This may be one of those cases where AI should be put in ‘charge’ of neutrality and management of the system.

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  4. rtj1211 says

    I have never joined Twitter for a reason: it is the platform’s aim to promote instant shallowness above considered depth.

    Judgement without evidence or simply judgement by quoting another judgement’s url.

    You simply cannot discuss any subject properly on Twitter.

    I have never been a fan of Twitter and this kind of behaviour backs that view.

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  5. Frankly Speaking says

    Are people really surprised that US corporations can do what they want, or what they are told to do? Likewise just wait until the US controlled ICAAN and DNS systems start switching off sites following instructions from their political masters.

    Many of us knew what level of control the US has been seeking for decades in military, economic and financial matters, but Trump, Pompeo and Bolton can’t keep their mouths shut and they have blown the lid off any covers they had to what they were doing. Full spectrum domination, the New American Century, breaking up the EU and UN, “you’re either with us or against us” are all being rolled out.

    Even if Clinton were in power the same would be happening behind the scenes, freedoms removed, whistleblowers jailed, just look at “liberal” Obama’s track record to see that the unDemocrats are cut from the same cloth, a one party fascist state with two different faces to fool the gullible electorate.

    If the rest of us don’t try and build an alternative and independent neutral internet and alternative messaging systems and social media, then we really will have no hope. It could be started through the academic/ university community and NGOs for example.

    The time to start is now. Hopefully some geeks reading this or at Off Guardian can look further into this and create such an independent movement, or join it if it already exists. I mean independent, i don’t mean pseudo-independent Trotskyist initiatives that will also stamp down on free speech.

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    • rtj1211 says

      I am afraid Universities are no defenders of Free Speech any more, they are now run like corporations. And plenty of NGOs are fronts for the CIA.

      More likely that traditionals channels i.e. printed books will safeguard knowledge in the short term.

      Building an independent internet takes time and money.

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    • Edwige says

      “a one party fascist state with two different faces to fool the gullible electorate”.

      ““The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea…. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can “throw the rascals out” at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.”
      (Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope)

      A book and an author well worth looking into for anyone who’s not discovered them yet.

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    • Dave m says

      Interesting that at the advent of the internet, it was a DARPA invention, developed afterwards by universities- They thought it would be a ‘free’ and open system, but corporate greed always kills off noble deeds…
      Yes, an alternative to the Googles and FBooks and Twitters needs to evolve.

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      • There are open source softwares that can easily do this. WordPress with BuddyPress can create great, open source/free social network platforms (and bbPress for forums). The crux is it is a lot of work for an organization to manage all the psycho & bigoted comments that appear. It’s not technology, it is organizational capacity. Read about BuddyPress at https://buddypress.org/.

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    • No great loss with regards Condell. He complains about extremism in Islam, making countless videos containing evidence of some obscure Imam with half a dozen hangers-on, whilst praising the virtues of a ‘faultless, dynamic, innovative’ Israeli Jewish society. If he actually lived there, he wouldn’t be so generous with his praise, after all it’s only a matter of time before this is forecast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPGQ-iB7mcY
      UK viewers, unless you have a VPN, will be unable to view it and despite a lot of critical videos being banned from British eyes like the video above, I would still defend Condell’s freedom to espouse his lopsided view of the Middle East.
      For anyone unable to view the video, it’s a discussion about how many slaves of goyim each person will be allowed to have, recorded in Israel.

      46
  6. rilme says

    Before I dumped my crappy USer hotmail account, I was suspended for the “unusual activity” of logging in from another country. I mean, I was visiting another country (nearby!) and logged in from there. But macrosaft said NO.

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Twitter is for twits or twats-I can never decide which.

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      • Frankly Speaking says

        If for private use, then narcissistic tossers. If for business use, it’s simply a marketing tool.

  7. twitter is private entity and as such not suited to public needs
    its is not their behavior which is unusual, but that of the dismembered public

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  8. Jeffrey St. Clair reports this week in CounterPunch that the fake “Alice Donovan” character who submitted rubbish to him and other publications, and who is mentioned in the Mueller indictments for crissakes, has SURVIVED the twitter purge.

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  9. Fair dinkum says

    Healthy?
    Meaningful?
    Accurate?
    What’s the collective noun for a pack of clowns?

    • bjd says

      I agree.
      But the owners and true beneficiaries of Twitter are no clowns.

    • rilme says

      A carload of clowns
      A nest of clowns
      A pratfall of clowns
      An alley of clowns
      A harlequinade of clowns
      A circus of clowns
      A bunch of clowns
      A shudder of clowns

Please note the opinions expressed in the comments do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or of OffG as a whole