April 30, 2012

Twitter’s “Red Guard” of flag-spam abusers

Filed under: Media, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:56

Some nasty tricks being played by some Twitter users, abusing the report feature that is supposed to help cut down on spam posts to attempt to shut down opinions they find offensive:

Shortly after their video “If I Wanted America to Fail” went viral, Free Market America found themselves kicked off Twitter, a popular social media resource that allows users to post very short messages. After a few hours of confusion, their account was reinstated.

This past Sunday, the Twitter account of Chris Loesch, husband of conservative pundit Dana Loesch, was abruptly shut down. After a massive outcry, and the creation of a Twitter topic called “#FreeChrisLoesch” that swiftly became one of the hottest “hash tags” on the network, Chris’ account was reactivated… for a couple of hours. By Monday morning, he was gone again, after his account was restored and removed several more times.

What did Free Market America and Chris Loesch do to warrant suspension? After all, people like Spike Lee and Roseanne Barr flagrantly, openly, defiantly violated Twitter’s terms of service, and put human lives in jeopardy, by distributing personal information about George Zimmerman, the shooter in the Trayvon Martin case. Their accounts have not been suspended. What violation of Loesch’s compares to using Twitter to target someone for assault by an angry mob — and, for that matter, sending the mob to the wrong address?

These suspensions were apparently the work of “flag spammers,” digital brown shirt gangs that make coordinated attacks to silence conservative voices by abusing Twitter’s spam flagging feature. Al Gore coined the term “digital brown shirts” to describe the online squadrons supposedly unleashed to “harass and hector any journalist who is critical of the President.” Of course, he was talking about President Bush, and there weren’t any actual “digital brown shirts” at the time, but this is precisely the sort of behavior he was describing.

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