Why I am no longer active on Twitter

I joined Twitter in 2009, ostensibly as a tool to engage people on matters related to my interest in counter apologetics. As time passed, though, the political climate in the UK had changed considerably, and my posts became more politicised. From about 2015 onwards, my output has been almost exclusively political (interspersed with spaniel updates). It was during the last epoch of primarily political commentary that I first ran into what would ultimately be Twitter's demise as a useful tool to engage people on matters related to my interests.

At the time of my permanent suspension, I had mustered a following of around 4,500; not the largest following by a long stretch, but sufficient enough to have a number of people that were happy to engage in (sometimes) constructive discussion in areas of importance to each of us. This wasn't always the case, of course; there will always be those that never engage or leave accounts dormant, and the number of trolls, shit posters and toe-curlingly wrong-minded twitterati on the platform is staggering, but there was always a healthy number of intellectually curious people where reasoned debate was not only possible, but was frequent. The non-engagers, though, didn't affect my experience one jot, and the trolls, shit posters, toe-curlingly wrong-minded twitterati and professional abusers were blocked (over 56k of them). In short, in over a decade's use, I had honed my Twitter experience pretty well to each of my needs, comforts and utility.

I received my first Twitter suspension in October 2020, another in January 2021, after having a completely clean bill of health for over a decade. Don't get me wrong, my two previous suspensions were with 'good cause'; I had broken Twitter's rules on abuse and harassment. It's a fair cop.

My first Twitter suspension My second Twitter suspension

While the Trump tweet was genuinely held, all I recall about the second offence, was that it was very much tongue-in-cheek, and wasn't intended as anything that should be construed as a breach of Twitter's rules. I was a bit pissed about the second one, but I 'got it'. From that point on, I endeavoured to be more circumspect with regard to how I express my disdain for people in the future.

Then, at 16:10 on March 17th 2021, I got the following notification from Twitter:

My third and final Twitter suspension

There a few things of importance to note here, with specific regard to my tweet:

  1. My Tweet - as the @freenorthnow identifier shows - was a response to another account's tweet.
  2. The way my response to that tweet is expressed, is evidence that it was not abuse or harassment of the account I was responding to; I must necessarily have been referring to a third party of some description.
  3. The use of a hyperbolic exclamation point is suggestive of humour.

1. @freenorthnow is the main account for the burgeoning Northern Independence Party; a party I support only inasmuch as it appears genuinely democratic socialist, and that it will take votes from a party that claims democratic socialism, but delivers a full-throated defence of capitalist 'free market' neoliberalism in reality. As a secessionary movement within the UK, GB and England, I find the Northern Independece movement simultaneously absurd and disturbing.

2. If I had directed my response to the account holder of the tweet I was responding to, the wording would have been more along the lines of 'You should be hanged'. That it was expressed towards a third party, that was not a party to the discussion at hand (no @ in either my tweet, or in the 'includes' of the thread), means that the 'someone' I allegedly abused/harassed, could not be immediately aware of the fact that I was abusing/harassing them, and it is difficult to make the accusation I was, if they were not aware of the alleged abuse/harassment. More on this later.

3. Only I will truly know the intent behind my use of the hyperbolic exclamation point, but once the 'someone' my tweet related to is revealed, only the least generous reading of my outburst could possibly construe my meaning as anything other than humourous. F. Scott Fitzgerald famously compared deploying the exclamation mark to “laughing at your own joke”, and when one realises who the 'someone' is that the hyperbolicised action was directed at, frankly, only the semantically illiterate would interpret it as abuse/harassment; as we shall see.

Now, let's briefly examine Twitter's claim against me:

Violating our rules against abuse and harassment.
You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. This includes wishing or hoping that someone experiences physical harm.

It is here, we begin to see the error in Twitter's methodology. Clearly, it would be an absurdity to have a policy against 'targeted harassment of something', as this would include the inanimate and - importantly, for the purposes of this defence - legendary entities that may not have even existed at any point in history.

Let's have a look at the tweet I responded to, because this provides all the context necessary, to dismiss Twitter's claim against me as a prima facie fraud:

Now, considering we have already ruled out the possibility that my 'abuse/harassment' was directed at the account I was responding to, we can see exactly what 'someone' it was I am alleged to have abused/harassed.

What we have here, is a comically photoshopped image of a chimpanzee wearing a Labour Party rosette, utilised as a backdrop to the tweet's wording; "The Labour Candidate washing ashore in Hartlepool".

You'll notice that the name of the candidate isn't mentioned in this March 17th tweet, because it wasn't until the following day that the name of Labour's selection for PPC to Hartlepool was announced:

A full eight minutes after the tweet I responded to was posted, @freenorthnow posted a follow-up tweet:

I dunno. Maybe, but Twitter support certainly didn't.

It is remarkable, that this follow-up tweet by @freenorthnow, were both published before my own response. Indeed, I considered which of the two I should respond to, opting in the end for the original, because the second tweet wasn't conducive to relaying my humourous response to the original.

My tweet isn't timed or dated, of course, because it doesn't exist any longer. However, as I have already stated, I received my suspension notice from Twitter at 16:10 on the same day - I also seem to recall that it was a matter of minutes after posting my response, that I recieved the suspension notice from Twitter - and over 24 hours before the announcement of Labour's candidate for Hartlepool - an actual 'someone' - was announced. Clearly, then, I literally could not have been abusing/harassing Paul Williams, or inciting others to do so, because his identity was unknown to anyone outside of the highest eschelons of the Labour Party, and quite possibly within it.

Now, let's look at the actual context, that Twitter was either too ignorant to 'get', or was too dishonest to look into when, in my appeal to them, I linked the following explanation for their edification:

The hanging of the Hartlepool monkey

As the author of the article goes on to allude to, the veracity of this legend is mired in its 200 year-old history. He even opens his article with the expression 'Legend has it...'

Whether or not this legend is true, though, isn't really relevant, as I was accused of abusing/harassing 'someone' presumably extant enough to feel abused/harassed. Were both my own and @freenorthnow's humour an example of 'Too soon?'


My reader may well be asking themselves, "Well, isn't the reason Tris is no longer active on Twitter, because he got suspended? Duh!", and that would be true, if I hadn't gone to the bother of opening another account (knowingly against Twitter's stipulation that I cannot do so) while I reasonably waited an unreasonable 44 days for them to respond to my appeal, which categorically exposed the absurdity of Twitter Support's reasoning.

I have toyed with the idea of taking this through the courts, as I clearly haven't broken Twitter's rules on this occasion (with specific respect to the offending tweet, anyway), and therefore their justification for the permanent suspension of my account is beyond the remit of their rules, and is prejudicial to my name. But, then, do I really want to get reinstated onto a platform that, under any other circumstances, I would block without hesitation for being toe-curlingly wrong-headed?

The answer here is a resounding 'No!', so despite being currently in posession of a sparkly new account with a handful of my former mutuals, I am not really bothered whether or not Twitter sees fit to suspend that account too.

Like Facebook before it, Twitter is 'woking' itself out of business. Certainly my business, anyway. I'll keep my replacement account for as long as it goes undetected, if for no other reason than to post updates of articles I will have produced here, in the hope that my old stalwarts share them enough to get some marginal momentum beyond organic search results, but I won't be active on the platform like I was before, and I won't mourn its loss should the day come when Twitter exacts its revenge on people that make jokes about monkeys, that may or may not have existed 200 years ago.

I have better things to do.