Unpersoned by Twitter’s Deep Shadowban

No Twitter

Having written before about Twitter’s nasty penchant for censoring and outright banning users who deviate from the company’s rigid left wing ideology, I fully expected the Twitter thought police to come for me. Milo Yiannopoulos warned as much.

I just didn’t expect them this soon.

Daddy Warpig tweet 1

Late Friday afternoon: friends on Twitter started complaining that they couldn’t see my tweets. Daddy Warpig placed the blame on a shadowban.

NB: if you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a shadowban, it’s an unofficial and highly passive-aggressive method that Twitter uses to censor people who disagree with them, but who haven’t broken any rules. By keeping the shadowbanned user’s followers from seeing his tweets or even notifications from him, Twitter can say it’s a bug and maintain plausible deniability.

Shadow bans usually last for 24; sometimes 48 hours.

Daddy Warpig tweet 2

Mine was still in effect a day later.

Keep in mind, this whole time I hadn’t received any communication from Twitter. No prior warnings, no notice of a TOS violation, no explanation of what was happening or why. Nothing.

This wasn’t a surprise, since it perfectly fits the kind of arbitrary censorious behavior that conservative and libertarian users have sadly come to expect from Twitter. I’m neither a conservative nor a libertarian, but Twitter just puts everyone to the right of Chairman Mao into the same badthink box.

The censorship continued through Sunday and into today. Lasting longer and with more extensive effects than ever before, this represents a new form of Deep Shadowban.

Rawle tweet 1

Brand visibility is a matter of life and death for a writer’s career. Until quite recently, deplatforming an author could only hurt his career. That’s clearly what Twitter was banking on, but for a social network they’re pretty mired in analog thinking.

The shadowban’s main effect has been to piss my followers off.

PoW tweet

I can’t blame them for getting mad when conversations that look like this to me:

Convo 2

look like this to them:

Convo 3

But it’s the unintended side effects that should really make Twitter rethink the wisdom of shadowbans, especially in this age of antifragility.

Convo 4

 

Greyed tweet

My number of followers before the shadowban: 970.

My number of followers now: 1,033 and counting.

And has this whole messy business helped me sell books?

You bet 🙂

I’m not upset with Twitter for censoring me. Like a small but growing number of independent authors, that only makes me richer and stronger.

I am upset that my readers are upset. I answer to them; never to Twitter. So I’d appreciate it if Twitter would kindly stop belaboring my bosses’ social media experience.

Of course, I expect Twitter to double down. Again. They enjoy making people weaker than them miserable. Let’s see how they like it when the tables are turned.

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About Brian Niemeier

Brian Niemeier is a John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer finalist. His second book, Souldancer, won the first ever Dragon Award for Best Horror Novel. He chose to pursue a writing career despite formal training in history and theology. His journey toward publication began at the behest of his long-suffering gaming group, who tactfully pointed out that he seemed to enjoy telling stories more than planning and adjudicating games.
  • James

    Testing this by posting a link to this article on twitter since I tweet conservative and libertarian content. Wonder if anyone will see it?

  • You’ve truly made it, Brian :). You even got an article about you on Breitbart out of this. Twitter never appealed to me, even before it turned SJWful.

    • Thanks, Ben. I hadn’t seen that the article had been published. This is a big part of how we turn the tables on censors.