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Conservative Group's Twitter Account Blocked, Liberal 'Flag Spam' at Work Again?

Matthew Sheffield's picture

Twitter is blaming an automated spam filter for the multi-hour shutdown of a conservative activist group's Twitter feed on Earth Day, just as the organization was seeing a surge in interest on Twitter and the web for its scathing video critical of the Obama administration.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Twitter has blamed technology for silencing a conservative activist group on Twitter.


Here's what happened on Earth Day, involving Americans for Limited Government and a video entitled “If I Wanted America to Fail,” as reported by ALG's Adam Bitely:

“[F]or some strange reason, Twitter silenced the official account for the new Americans for Limited Government project Free Market America. The account, @FreeMarket_US, went live a few days before Earth Day and was slowly picking up steam. On Earth Day, the official website for Free Market America was launched and its Facebook and Twitter components started to come to life as well. The first video put out by Free Market America, 'If I wanted America to fail,' got over 120,000 hits in less than 36 hours! But you would never know that if you tried to follow the Twitter page — it was suspended by Twitter midway through the day on Earth Day! 

"After numerous attempts to contact Twitter and see what the story was behind the suspension, ALG launched a Twitter campaign against Twitter. Urging all of our followers to contact @twitter to ask why the Free Market America site has been suspended, thousands came to our defense. Led by Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) who tweeted to her more than 270,000 followers multiple times, and wrote a story on the suspension, Twitter exploded with demands for an answer from the company for suspending the account. Many other notables jumped into the fray including Fox News’ Eric Bolling (@ericbolling), talk radio host Neal Boortz (@talkmaster), and Glenn Beck’s The Blaze. Finally, at 10:46 pm, the @freemarket_us twitter account was restored with an explanation that for some unknown reason the account had been caught up in Twitter’s automated spam filter."

And that's probably what happened. But that doesn't mean Twitter is totally “off the hook” on the question of whether the social media company is biased against conservatives.

Last year, Twitter shut down the Twitter account of Empower Texans, a grassroots conservative organization - and the Twitter account of every single employee of the grassroots conservative organization. The accounts were later reinstated - after The Drudge Report picked up the story and asked, "Is Twitter silencing Austin conservatives?" 

Was Twitter trying to silence the organization because of its politics?

Probably not.

The more likely explanation - in both the Empower Texans case and in the ALG case - is that liberal groups targeted the conservative groups with a coordinated attack designed to label their Twitter accounts as "spam" accounts.  "Flag spam" - activists flagging the social media accounts of political oppents as "spam" in order to get their accounts suspended - has been a problem since before the rise of Twitter and Facebook to their current dominant positions in online media.

Liberal activists used the tactic for several years

Because of the proliferation of fake blogs, spam comments and phony videos, many interactive sites have added mechanisms to prevent a group discussion from being hijacked by allowing regular readers to "flag" things they come across that are offensive, obviously spam or violate copyright laws. After enough complaints about a particular piece of content are raised, the "flagged" video or comment is removed from circulation and placed into a review system in which a pre-selected group of people review it and decide whether the reports are correct. If the complaints are judged incorrect, the content is restored to the Internet. If not, it is kept out of public view. 

It makes sense for Web sites to do this: They have the right to ensure that their sites aren't turned into free advertisements for unsavory companies, after all. What is harder to support, however, is that many Web sites' flagging systems are themselves becoming targets of abuse - by malicious individuals intent on consigning the free speech of others behind the moderation firewall.

The abuse of social media sites' spam flagging mechanisms appears to be a favorite tool of liberal activists, as it is mostly conservatives like Empower Texans and ALG that are victimized. 

On YouTube, dozens of pro-life videos have been marked as "offensive" or containing "mature content," usually without any merit whatsoever. In many cases, complaints of the video producers have fallen on deaf ears. And in 2008, extreme liberals supporting Barack Obama managed to get a series of blog supporting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination wrongly labeled as spam and taken down.

Twitter owes ALG more than a lame excuse blaming some automated spam filter. It should provide ALG with specifics - if not who complained, at least how many complaints were filed over what period of time.

Until Twitter provides that kind of transparency about these cases, conservative activists can't be blamed for wondering if Twitter's process for identifying and suspending spam accounts is truly fair, or in some way, intentionally or not, rigged against conservatives on Twitter.

As for the tactic of flagging the opposition's Twitter feeds, YouTube videos and such as "spam," the Left should try to win the political arguments of the day on the merits, rather than resorting to sleazy tricks to try to muzzle, silence or remove the opposition from the conversation. Until they do that, social media platforms like Twitter owe conservatives and the American people an extra measure of effort to make sure such "flag spam" assaults on speech are no longer effective.

Comments

#1 Gibbs' Rule #39

There is no such thing as coincidence.

#2 Exception to Rule #39

Look at the very previous story to this one on NewsBusters:

Liberal Media Group Unveils New Site Honoring Biased 'Truth Tellers'

"The news and truth are not the same thing." -Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER

#3 To Be Expected from this Criminal Organization

Come on folks! We need to be prepared to get our message out over and above the obvious corruption of freedom and liberty shown to us by the criminal left...

#4 And still...

Newsbusters is moving to a comment provider that prefers it's users to log-in through other social media sites like Twitter and Facebook that are commonly cited for wrongly blocking conservative users.

The vast majority of social media have a guilty until proven innocent stand on blocking a user or content. And that really seems to be implemented when the alleged offender in expressing conservative viewpoints rather than liberal viewpoints.

 

Madison and Jefferson and Franklin built a Republic - Roberts killed it! 

#5 How about this?

If you want an honest government:
1) Select Representatives by means of a draft lottery, qualifications for inclusion to the pool of prospective draftees to be determined by each state.
2) Repeal the 17th Amendment. Give the selection of Senators back to the state legislatures, with the addition of term limits and the right of recall by the state Governor, the state legislature, and plebiscite.
3) Remove the pay of federal legislators and staff from the federal domain. The state sending these people to Congress should be paying 'em.

#6 Automated spam filter?

As with anything automated, it has to be programmed. Only conservative sites are "filtered"? Give me a break. If the filter had gone haywire, it wouldn't have been so selective. Either Twitter knowingly instituted it or their security has gaping holes in it. Since it's happened before, I suspect it's the former.

Now that Newsbusters is moving to another server that is linked for password authentication to Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and Yahoo - organizations that are headed by known liberals who on occasion "accidentally" block conservative commentary or redirect you from them with their search engines - makes you feel as if it's a "if you can't beat them, join them" mentality. It's sort of like the United States contracting with China to build our military equipment.

The "automatic filter" excuse by Twitter that is the topic of this blog post should be of concern to MRC.

iamsaved "The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left," (Ecclesiastes 10:2) MSM Journalism - "a profession consisting of idealogues espousing their beliefs regardless of facts and/or truth."

#7 Correction to your post

You do not have to sign in to our upcoming comments via Twitter or Facebook.

Instead, you can sign up directly via Disqus which does not have a record of erasing politically conservative accounts.

#8 True, but...

But I wouldn't sign up to any third-party service to comment here. I've had prior (bad) experience (not politically related) with third-party service providers.

Since then, I successfully "dissappeared" from Google and Facebook, and I am enjoying the privacy benefits. I will not lose that now just to continue commenting here.

I will endeavour to refrain from making any further comments on this site.

#9 Disqus problems you might not be aware of

Disqus has a huge flaw that I have talked with them about. You can get a huge number of accounts and spam to your hearts content. There is one such loon right now attacking every single article that Drudge has linked critical of Obama. It is a new form of troll that has not been given a name yet. The person created a site that is completely insane with conspiracy theories that are off the wall. All this person does is continually comment on the high ranking comments about the insane blog. Maybe people here have seen this commenter-

BObamaNotPresidentClick4Proof
SpyPalinClickHere
CIAtookovermediaClick4Proof
TheresNoPresidentClick4Proof
CIAisNowPresidentClick4Proof
SarahsSecretsOutClickHere
UShasNoPresidentClick4Proof
StateRunMediaClick4Proof
MediaBlackoutExposedClickHere
PoliceStateRunsMediaClickHere
FedsMadeSarahPalinClick4Proof
CIARiggedElectionClick4Proof
David Krammer
SpankySpankster
mcuban008

If you notice, the spammer has even taken a form of my name, stole my avatar. Disqus will NOT cancel the account and leaves it to the website that uses their service. I do not know if Disqus even allows you to IP ban commenters, you best be ready for spammers. They will make your comment sections a mess on purpose. The left uses every technique they can develop to control the narrative. Just a little warning.

"Be an information soldier in an army of one; where no one can follow, only lead." David Kramer

#10 David~

If you haven't already, would you mind posting this info on the "Important Admin Note: Comment System Changing Soon" blog?

"If not us, who? If not now, when?"
~Ronald Reagan

#11 Sorta

I understand how these filters work and it is easy to abuse. However, it's just as easy to stop the abuse. For example, it would not be that big of an issue for Twitter to pop up a message explaining that falsely flagging a message will result in a suspension your account, and then, when it's found that spam abuse had occurred, ACTUALLY SUSPEND EVERYONE THAT CLICKED THE SPAM BUTTON.

Problem solved.

As to why they won't do this, I don't know. It won't be long before everything that takes a stand that some group does not like will get targeted and sites like Twitter will have to take action eventually.

 

 

"To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary."

--Ernesto "Che" Guevara

#12 These aren't 'liberal

These aren't 'liberal activists', they are today's 'Brown shirts', looking to silence a group they rabidly hate and can't silence through the use of fact or logic. The same sort of, nay, the same people who are calling for the murder of George Zimmerman.

Americans keeping their own earnings is a Civil Right! Demand your Civil Rights!

#13 Liberals lie

Liberals lie. That is the long and the short of it. That is what conservatives have to always remember.

LIBERALS LIE.

#14 And we are damned if we dont

And we are damned if we dont and damned if we do.

Nuke em til they glow; then shoot em in the dark

#15 cansorship

This is another example of a policy of deliberate censorship on the part of 'progressive liberal socialists'. They cannot tolerate dissent or independent thought, thus they use every dirty trick imaginable to silence all voices that may even question their policies or the greater agenda.

Do not accept an apology without a complete accounting of the incident and proof that such attacks will not be successful in the future.

#16 I wonder what disq.us will

I wonder what disq.us will blame if we lose our ability to comment here?

#17 Another reason I will never

Another reason I will never use twitter.

"For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security."

#18 Every conservative should delete their twitter accounts

Chances are you're being monitored and hackers will be looking to use your name as as spam.

One Nation Under GOD and very proud of it

#19 Time for meta-moderation

There's a relatively simple solution.

Track the users who are flagging things as spam. If a site is taken offline for review, the review should determine if those flagging it had "just cause" or not. If not, after 3 of these "events", the privilege of "flagging as spam" is revoked for a period of time.

#20 Please reconsider, Admins~

In regard to the new changes you want to make, do you really want to step one foot into the arena that could do something similar to NB?

This is a perfect example of how you really cannot anticipate where this will take you. Bozell is on "Hannity" on a pretty regular basis now. Pretty sure the O administration is necoming aware of and likes Newsbusters about as much as FOX.

"If not us, who? If not now, when?"
~Ronald Reagan

#21 I agree disqus does not work

I agree disqus does not work and you will end up being dumped on by thousands of liberal trolls. NB is playing into the the enemy's hands.

Non, je ne regrette rien. "You aren't angry because I might be a racist, you're angry because you know I'm right".

#22 Twitter banned my account after two weeks

I'm pretty sure the O-bots got me banned from Twitter only two weeks after I opened my account through a coordinated flagging campaign. Luckily I wrote to Twitter and told them that nothing about my account violates TOS and after a month it was reinstated. If you go to @TheOxyCon you'll see why the O-Bots tried to silence me...lol! If you like what you see, give me a follow and I will reciprocate.

#23 No Twitter for me, thank you

After all the negative things I've read about Twitter I will not sign up. I've got a Yahoo account and a WordPress account (and some individual ones like NB here). Those two do everything I need. The few sites that don't take either of those I just don't use.

#24 Big Mistake

Anyone that is planning on using twitter, or anything google (like youtube), to disseminate non-socialist information should not be surprised when the plug is pulled.

These companies have socialist agendas and they do impose their beliefs.

Which is why they both have found ways to nicely integrate with the communist chinese government wishes.

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