Twitter is a cesspool of white male toxicity and I’m done with it.
I’ve been a member of Twitter since 2008 — the beginning — and today, I am done with it. It’s not even the biggest episode of bad shit that’s happened to me on Twitter. Over the past year or so, I’ve had people threaten to kill me, pass around photos of my children, incessantly attack my appearance, and repeatedly target my business with one-star reviews. I’m currently suspended from Twitter for standing up for myself (screenshots below) and other people who are routinely targeted and harassed by the Bernie Bro alt-left. Those of us targeted are mainly women, people of color (POC) and LGBTQ folks. I didn’t break any of Twitter’s rules, but am a victim of a flaw in Twitter’s system that rewards people who abuse the mass reporting system and punishes their victims. The users enlist as many other users as possible to mass report their victims’ tweets until Twitter suspends the victim. I’m tired of being punished by Twitter for standing up to abusers and I’m tired of being a victim of Twitter’s laziness and failure to invest in improving its reporting system, which is routinely used by trolls to target victims of abuse and silence them. I’ve been suspended several times simply because trolls mass reported me, not because I actually broke any rules. But Twitter doesn’t have a system to prevent this sort of abuse on its website after 10 years of existence and presumably billions of dollars in profits. And the only reason it doesn’t have an adequate safeguard against reporting abuse is because it simply doesn’t value the women, POC, and LGBTQ folks who make up the bulk of its most valuable content-producing users and who make up the bulk of people who are targeted and abused there. There’s no excuse for it.
I’ve always used my real name on Twitter. When I first joined in 2008, it was as a new solo law practitioner. It was exciting to be a new solo, but to also have all of these other solos to chat with throughout the day on Twitter. I met some of my dearest friends on there and we deepened our friendships by taking it over to Facebook and chatting privately or talking on the phone. Some of my Twitter friends have come out to Portland and we’ve visited and I consider them dear friends. I could visit just about every state and have lunch with a Twitter user that I’ve known for 10 years. Back in the early days of Twitter, most users were real people trying to connect. Some users used a non-identifying username and some sort of avatar back then, as we were graduating from the anonymous messageboard and Livejournal phase of Internet life, but they were real people, and there wasn’t a lot of abuse. There were assholes, but if you blocked them, they didn’t try to harass and dox you and ruin your life. They didn’t create new accounts to continue stalking you. As the years went by, Twitter became an unsafe place, and many users left or went anonymous. But even more users set up anonymous accounts in order to harass and dox people.
Gamergate, a massive harassment campaign targeting women in the video game industry, turned into Hillarygate, the misogynistic harassment campaign against Hillary and her supporters by both the Bernie Bro left and the Trump Troll right during the 2016 election, and it’s now a constant barrage of Womangate, POCgate, and LGBTQgate. Gamergate and Hillarygate were tests of how much misogyny and abuse our social media sites and citizens would accept, and Twitter has been the ultimate failure at that test. Twitter has become a favorite tool of white male toxicity.
During 2015 and 2016, I spent a lot of my time on Facebook and in Facebook groups debating about the candidates with people who I mostly knew in real life. Being from Portland and being a Hillary supporter, debating with people I actually knew was kind of a full-time job. The bulk of my time was spent educating people, because they literally had no idea why they hated Hillary and loved Bernie and/or Trump. They weren’t aware of the Trojan horse of socially acceptable misogyny that made its way into their belief system. Most of those people unfriended me or stopped arguing with me, but many of them started seeing the abusive, misogynistic, racist campaigns that both Bernie and Trump were running and they switched their support to Hillary. After the election, I felt so betrayed by the friends and family who continued to badmouth Hillary, that I was seeking camaraderie, which I ended up finding on Twitter. For a few months, Twitter was a real source of community for me. And to a large extent it still has been up until now.
But I’ve been constantly, viciously attacked by people I don’t know, simply because I like Hillary and don’t like Bernie — or more pointedly, because I am a woman who doesn’t behave in the ways that these (mostly but #notall) white males approve. These people have stalked me at my business, where they one-star reviewed me; they passed around photos of my kids; they critiqued my appearance and my intelligence; they threatened to murder me. I’m talking about people on the left. I haven’t been attacked nearly as viciously by people on the right. I am a single parent who is constantly struggling to make ends meet. These attacks are vicious and callous, especially the ones designed to destroy my business and make it impossible for me to feed and house my children. These attackers are supposed to be the “real progressives,” but they have no qualms about harassing women and economically destroying single mothers.
One of the Bernie Bro alt-left’s favorite games is cherry picking tweets to “prove” that you’re a racist/misogynist/homophobe/transphobe. They are taking the opportunity to try this with me now, because since I’m banned, I am not able to defend myself like I usually do by posting the full context of the tweets in question. This is what they do — silence women and POC and then defame them with accusations they aren’t able to defend. If they can’t ban you, they’ll do it behind a block, or they’ll enlist a hundred trolls to hit you with accusations so you literally just don’t have time to defend yourself. This was posted yesterday to shame people who were sticking up for me:
That tweet has been a favorite of these “True Progressives” to try to shame me into silence, but they’re never honest enough to link to the full context of the exchange:
Maybe I could have handled this exchange better, but trying to paint me as Actually a RacistTM by providing one out-of-context tweet is just dishonest and really makes a joke of racism.
Sometimes their attempts to paint people as Actually a RacistTM are just sad and showcase their inability to actually read the tweets they’re outraged about.
I said that women, POC, and other groups deserved to have people vote to protect their interests, and these dummies are passing that around to try to perpetuate the hilarious take that I’m talking to these groups of people demanding their votes for me, personally.
And that’s what these people do. They search the timelines of women, POC, and LGBTQ folks who don’t support Bernie, and they try to find problematic tweets, sometimes from years ago, to paint them as Actually a RacistTM, or Actually a MisogynistTM. They don’t care about racism or misogyny; they just like to use racism and misogyny to silence women and POC. It’s incredibly sick, and anyone who does it should be called out and shamed for their behavior.
I’m suspended for calling an abuser “stupid.” That’s right. I didn’t even use swear words. Note that these tweets I’m suspended for are responses to tweets sent to me.
These are the tweets I was suspended for this time. I sent them responding to someone who had been harassing another Twitter user. I had blocked him previously for abuse, because Twitter doesn’t suspend actual abusers, but I unblocked him to stand up for a user who was targeted and harassed by this abusive troll. He had his troll brigade mass report me for “targeting” him and “abuse,” which anyone can see is not the case here. I’m simply responding to his tweets at me. None of these tweets violate Twitter’s rules. There is no rule that women must be sweet and kind, as far as I can tell.
These are all of the tweets I made in the context of this suspension, as well as the tweets I was responding to:
Here is where the harassing troll encouraged his followers to harass and report me:
Twitter has so far ignored my appeal. The autoresponder to my appeal said that I would hear back from Twitter within 3–5 days. It has been nearly two weeks. Even if Twitter approves my appeal, it’s appalling that they allow women to be targeted the way they do. That I should have my time on Twitter interrupted because a bunch of abusive trolls manipulated the reporting system to get me banned is simply unacceptable, especially when there is nothing to lose for the trolls. Twitter can prevent this, but chooses not to do so. So, I’m done. Twitter needs to get its shit together. When it is driving away long-time users who have been there since the beginning using our real names, in favor of anonymous trolls with brand-new accounts, it has a shitty business model that won’t last. Someone else will do it better, and people like Adrian C. Jackson of Speekin,’ (an invite-only app with the first round of invites only going out to black women) are already trying to do it better.
Twitter’s business model that supports, or even depends on, harassment is so unsustainable, that Disney declined to buy the company last fall:
In its attempt to hype its numbers by keeping trolls around, Twitter has not only alienated actual users who have been harassed by these trolls, but it has also not fooled the companies who declined to purchase it:
Twitter silences women. It silences people of color. It rewards trolls and it gives an edge to white men who work together to mass harass women and people of color. I’m over it. I’ve waited patiently for them to get their shit together and create a level playing field for women and people of color, and it’s clear that they aren’t serious about getting their shit together. Twitter is for white guys.
I’ve been stubborn for way too long. I’ve taken the time to invididually block trolls that attack me. I’ve never used blocking apps, but have individually blocked around 5,000 users who have harassed me. I’ve taken the time to report abusers who never get suspended for their abuse. I’ve had hope and faith in Twitter that they simply had growing pains since the troll infiltration during the election. But I’m over it. Twitter is in a position where it could choose to protect its longtime users, its users who are members of marginalized groups, and it chooses not to.
One of the more infuriating things about Twitter is that when you are suspended, even WRONGLY, you can’t block people who continue to tag and harass you. Twitter puts you into a little purgatory where you experience all of the abuse, but you can’t respond to it or stop it from happening. I could only lock my account and uninstall the app from my phone. But if I go to the site, I have a slew of notifications from abusive trolls like this one who still has an active account while I’m suspended for calling a bro stupid:
[EDIT: Just got the notification from Twitter 15 mins. after publishing of this guy being in violation of the rules . Ittook them a week and half to take this action, while I was suspended 10 mins. after I tweeted the tweets I was suspended for.]
I’ve been struggling with the idea of the trolls “winning.”
But I’m not sure that this is the trolls winning. It’s just me choosing different media to discuss the same issues I always discuss. I don’t plan to shut up, but I am not starting over with Twitter if they ban my account permanently, and being suspended has freed me up from a lot of toxicity that I didn’t realize was affecting me so negatively. At the end of the day, Twitter doesn’t just deserve my business.
Twitter enables abuse. I am not able to continue being abused any longer.
Catch me here on Medium (maybe I’ll write more, since I won’t be wasting time on Twitter), on Facebook (for now, it has its own issues) or on Speekin,’ which I just signed up for, and hope to see take off over the next year. Twitter lost a long-time, loyal user of 10 years today. I expect that they’ll continue to bleed users until it’s just one big useless troll farm.
Here is Twitter in the words of its own leaders over the years, agreeing that it sucks at stopping abuse and harassment.
Here’s a thought, Twitter: Instead of dicking around (literally, what a sausage fest) with your own idea on how to make improvements, why don’t you hire some of the women, POC, and LGBTQ folks who have been harassed and abused on your platform, so that you can have their valuable perspectives on harassment and abuse trends? You’re not able to keep up with the ways trolls manipulate your platform, because you’re not living through the abuse yourselves, and you don’t value the ongoing input of people who do. You’ll never solve the problem until you start including the victims in your plans.