I’m glad you chose to write this. I, too, had been blocked by Johnstone, not for hurling insults (as she herself often does to some of her detractors) nor for using foul language (which she also seems very fond of) but for demonstrating that many of the articles she links to in her pieces do not actually support her assertions and, many times, they actually state the complete opposite of what she claims. I wrote to Medium regarding my concern that their blocking policy permits conspiratorial-minded fake news writers to publish their content unchallenged. Here is the lukewarm response I got in return:
Hi, thanks for writing in. Sorry you’re experiencing that.
As you may know, we have given some careful thought to our blocking system, and it’s always helpful to hear how users themselves are experiencing it.
Medium is an open network, which means anyone can sign up to read and post so long as they follow our Terms and Rules. Our rationale for how blocking works is an attempt to help alleviate some of the problems around trolls and online harassment. We give all users equally a tool to block any and all further communications with another user should they feel that they need to.
We understand the frustration this may cause and that you may not agree with the reason for the blocking. Our intent is to allow users control over their interactions on the site.
I’ll bring it up with the team as we grow and evolve Medium, and we value this feedback.
In response to Medium, I wrote that, while I sympathize with their efforts to curtail online harassment on their platform and I also know it can get very costly to pay staff to check into each and every blocking situation, unfortunately, their policy to allow every user to block whomever they want will wind up turning Medium into a hotbed for fake news writers who know they can get away with publishing outright lies while silencing all criticism. Obviously, their policy as it stands now does not “lead to vigorous debate of substantive issues” as was their intent in creating Medium as stated in their Rules and Terms and it also threatens to turn Medium into an intolerable shithole filled with bubble-headed conspiracists and outright trolls. Unfortunately, according to the response I got, it doesn’t look as if this is going to change anytime soon, so I won’t be paying for the benefit of using Medium until they clear this issue up.
Also wanted to say, I had to laugh reading Johnstone’s comment on Facebook in which she crowdsources ideas to help push her agenda of creating a “counter-narrative” in regards to the Russia investigation, so thank you for sharing it! I must say, I’ve never seen a journalist, as this person claims to be, asking readers for help to write their columns. Some “journalist”. It would be funny if it wasn’t so incredibly sad that so many people fall for this crap.