If you’ve spent a second on Twitter, you’ve had the experience of having someone tweet something at you so unbelievably bigoted you begin to plan murdering them before you realize googling “how to find a Twitter user’s home address” and “best weapons for an amateur assassination” will probably only end up coming back to haunt you. So, instead, you settle for reporting that person in the hope that Twitter will suspend their account — you know, Twitter-murder. So you report them, Twitter says “thanks, we’ll check it out,” only to tell you two days later “We liked the guy you reported so much we’re giving him a job and suspending your account instead. Hail Hydra.”
I’ve seen so many so many users complaining about being unable to get someone suspended that I decided to come up with this handy guide to help.
I’m not some sort of genius-level Twitter user or genius-level genius nor do I even have the base competencies to make it as an adult. I have no insider information about how Twitter responds to reports, but I can tell you I’m very successful at getting accounts suspended. You can be successful too. Just follow these simple, over-written steps.
Step 1. Know how to report.
The first screen when you report someone asks you “What’s the problem with this account?” It presents four options:
— “I’m not interested in this account,”
— “They are posting spam,”
— “Their account may be hacked,” and
— “They’re being abusive or harmful.”
Clearly the first three choices aren’t why you’re here. (Who’d ever report someone for not interesting them?) So obviously, always choose “abusive or harmful.”
Once you’ve chosen “They’re being abusive or harmful,” you’re presented with a screen asking how your target is being abusive or harmful, offering you the following choices:
— “Being disrespectful or offensive,”
— “Pretending to be me or someone else,”
— “Engaged in targeted harassment,”
— “Directing hate against a race, religion, gender, or orientation,”
— “Threatening violence or physical harm,” and
— “Contemplating suicide or self-harm.”
Now, if your target is pretending to be you, harassing you and has been for some time, threatening actual violence, or talking about suicide, go ahead and choose those options. If you pick the “disrespectful or offensive” option, I can almost guarantee the person will not be banned. Twitter is lenient with what they allow and certainly no one respects anyone else on Twitter. Thus, pick the “directing hate” option.
Finally, you’ll get a screen asking who your target is targeting:
— “Someone else,” and
— “A group of people.”
Always pick “a group of people.” After all, a group of people can include you and someone else. Everybody wins.
After that, they ask you to “describe the issue” by picking up to five tweets to build your case of why that person should be banned. When it comes to this step,
a) Be discerning. Pick the five absolute most obvious, undeniable examples of that person targeting a group. Don’t settle for “close enough.” Try to find tweets with slurs or direct hateful statements, not just ones with implied statements. For instance, if you have two tweets, “Black people don’t rock,” and “White people rock,” the “Black people don’t rock” tweet is much stronger in building your case, even though the other tweet implies white supremacy.
b) Really get in there. Start scrolling through tweets. Sometimes I’ll scroll through a few dozen before I settle on five. Don’t just pick the first five that help your case; if you’ve chosen four and then find two that are stronger than any of the four, deselect the weakest one and select those two. That said, if you found five good ones, there’s no need to continue. Besides, the more recent, the better.
c) Don’t pick identical tweets. This is common; bigots are lazy and tend to tweet the same “there are only two genders” or whatever line at many people. Make sure the tweets you select are distinct. Variety is the spice of lifetime bans.
d) Don’t feel like you must choose one type of bigotry. If your target has two racist tweets, one anti-Semitic tweet, and two more transphobic tweets, just select those. Twitter doesn’t care which group is being offended; they just want the evidence.
Step 2. Stop wasting your time on accounts Twitter probably won’t suspend.
Twitter is like a white Christian republican. They only see racism if it’s a dude burning a cross in someone’s lawn. And even then, they’ll say, “Well, is this a first-time offense?”
That said, the only way of knowing whether Twitter will suspend an account is to begin the process of reporting it. When you’re selecting, say, a racist’s tweets for your report and you’re not seeing overtly racist tweet after overtly racist tweet, stop. It’s not going to work. Maybe you’ll find something if you scroll enough, but in general, you’re just wasting your time. Block the person and move on with your life. “But Evan,” you say, “I’m still so pissed!”
Well, you’re in luck: I have a solution.
Step 3. Take out your frustration on others.
So, the big fish broke the line and got away. One more racist on Twitter you can’t do anything about and are too inept to murder. Sucks to be you, right? Wrong! Sucks to be other racists. Remember, for every creep on Twitter who says something bigoted or offensive to you directly, there are approximately infinity billion others who have never tweeted a word at you. And guess what? Getting them blocked feels just as good as getting your original target blocked. Plus, if you go on a roll, you can get Twitter to ban twenty people for every one you weren’t able to get banned.
The only thing you need for this is a little bit of a tolerance for reading ignorant bullshit. But hey, if you didn’t have that you wouldn’t be on Twitter. So steel your resolve. Take a deep breath. Ball up your frustration into a fiery mass of magma. Put on your “don’t fuck with me” face. You’re ready to go. After all, aren’t you a fucking social justice warrior? Fuck yes, you are.
Start by searching for the original term that offended you. Find accounts that use it. Pick one that seems particularly egregious. Report it as in Step 1. Repeat with another account. Repeat with the accounts they’re tweeting at or accounts that like their tweets. If you run out of gas, find a new search term. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
For instance, when I want to target anti-Semites, I will search for the term “holohoax,” something I’ve noticed holocaust deniers use. Immediately, I’ll have hundreds of reportable accounts at my fingertips. I can report tweets using the term “holohoax,” ones saying Jews are running the world’s governments, even tweets using those pesky little sets of parentheses that indicate someone is a (((jew))). Twitter is more than happy to ban them all.
Yes, it’s a bit icky to have to search for racial slurs and then read through hateful tweet after hateful tweet, but you quickly get used to it when you’re expecting it. And if you do it all in one big session, it’s not that bad. In for a penny, in for a nonstop torrent of hate speech. Plus, you get the satisfaction of knowing you’re ruining these people’s days.
Don’t tweet at these people. In fact, don’t even block or mute them. They’ll probably come back eventually at which point you can report them again. Just keep reporting people until you have completely forgotten about that first person you weren’t able to report.
Step 4. Reap the rewards.
So you may be saying, “But Evan, it’s not good enough. I have bloodlust. Feed my bloodlust. The person who wronged me must pay. I demand satisfaction.” My response to that: No you don’t. In fact, you don’t even remember the handle of the person who wronged you, especially if you did what I told you to and blocked them. You just want to silence a bigot. And by using my technique, if you, say, report twenty accounts when you get upset, over the next days and weeks, Twitter will notify you of all the successful suspensions. Some even take months, but as they come in, each notification is a friendly little voice saying “WINNER!” Just one hour of banning people will provide days and days of little dopamine drips letting you know you’re helping to clean up the mean streets of Twitter. And that initial account? Well he’s running out of buddies to retweet him.
I firmly believe if everyone started using this technique on a regular basis, eventually you’d see a huge reduction in the numbers of bigoted accounts. Imagine a Twitter utopia where you’re unfettered and free to yell at either Bernie or Hillary supporters, correct people you essentially agree with, not get jokes and references, and spoil the most recent episode of Game of Thrones for everyone.
After all, that’s what Twitter is for.