Twitter is Blocking Access to OffG’s Content

For weeks they have been flagging all our links with a fake “warning”, and suppressing us in search results

Kit Knightly

Twitter is blocking all links to OffG with an incredibly vague and highly dishonest “warning”, they have been doing it for weeks and we have never received any notice or explanation. It is a blatant attempt at censorship, and it needs to stop.

Any of you who follow us on social media have probably become more than familiar with this screen:

…it appears every time you click on any of our articles on twitter.

Note the vague language – “potentially spammy”, “could fall into”. They don’t even definitely say there is anything wrong, let alone what it actually is.

Since we can obviously rule out malicious software, phishing, spam and “violent content”, the only thing we can conclude is that we supposedly “violated” one of twitter’s rules. Since they don’t see fit to tell us which of their rules we’ve broken, let’s just inspect them all. They are right here in black and white and are fairly predictable:

  1. No child exploitation or child pornography
  2. No promotion of illegal practices
  3. No violence or promotion of violence
  4. No hate speech or threats
  5. No posting private information without consent
  6. No abuse or harassment
  7. No hacking, spam or fraud
  8. No plagiarism or copyright infringement

It’s all very basic stuff, and anyone even passingly familiar with our site could tell you we have never come close to breaking any of those rules. (We would be happy to argue this with anyone who comes forward to accuse us of anything specific).

Of course, none of this is accidental – the vagueness is entirely intentional. They don’t accuse us of anything specific, because then we cannot give a specific refutation (youtube does the same thing all the time, they will say your video “violated our community guidelines”, but they will never say how.)

This is actually even more dishonest than youtube – which is a hell of a thing to say – because twitter is going further, implying we have engaged in borderline illegal behaviour.

The most revealing details here are actually buried deep with the rabbit-warren of “help pages” on twitter.

First, there’s the way they “surface links” (meaning identify URLs which might be “dangerous”). Their methods include [our emphasis]:

Collaborative information sharing with industry peers and trusted NGO partners

They don’t say who their “trusted NGO partners” are, but we can probably guess…and we really don’t need to know the specifics to see how potentially corrupt that is.

Second, there’s this quote from the section headed “about links that have warning notices” [again, our emphasis]:

In some instances, Twitter will introduce a warning that the link may be unsafe. The warning notice can be clicked through if you wish to proceed to the third-party site. When a link has been categorized by Twitter as meeting the criteria for a warning notice, it will also have limited visibility on Twitter.

“Limited visibility” means twitter is actively hiding our content. Specifically – they are concealing it on people’s timelines and suppressing in search results.

To sum up:

  • Twitter is suppressing our content in searches and blocking links to our articles.
  • This decision was informed by unnamed third party “partners” – perhaps including unknown NGOs – and based on unspecified criteria.
  • They have been doing it for months, without ever notifying us, or giving us any option for appeal or review.
  • We don’t know of what we are accused and we have been given no method or avenue for defending ourselves.

This is authoritarian censorship, pure and simple.

But, as the saying goes, “When you’re taking flak you know you’re over the target”


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Categories: censorship, free speech, latest